Our True Friend Verbatim

Good morning
How are you today?

Thank you so much for that wonderful message in song that has been offered to us this morning.
You know, it is a privilege to be here with you today.
Actually, I've already written a devotional article on this short message.
You could read it on page 213 in Never forget.
Without further ado, the center of our study this morning can be found in the book of Proverbs 17:17.
But before we dig deeper, let’s bow our heads for a moment of prayer.
Let’s pray
 
In this world that we are living in, have you experienced betrayals in your life?
And the root cause of this painful experience is our family members, relatives, best friends, or any friendship that we have.
I could probably say that we experienced it in some segments of our lives.
This morning, the thematic expression that the text emphasizes is all about a God who is full of grace, full of love, and a God who is a God of relationship.
Maybe some of us here are celebrities in our own right.
But today I will not be talking about how to flatter a person or how to flatter ourselves because we will be helping somebody in need.
Instead, we will be talking about a person who is a common friend of ours and who will be with and in us through eternity.

Now is the time to open our bibles.
The Bible is our lifelong textbook and one of the most beloved books of all ages.
Please encourage me today.
Please open your bibles.
Let us read together our main text this morning?
Are you ready to eat our early spiritual food?
The center of our study this morning can be found in Proverbs 17:17, which states:
You know what, the book of proverbs is one of the most well-known books in terms of sayings.
This was penned by 3 different authors.
But mostly, it was written by King Solomon himself.
As we know, King Solomon was one of the most epic people when we talk about life experience.
Yes, he had good and bad experiences, although he was blessed by God with wisdom.
He has 3000 wise sayings.
And 900 of these can be found in the book of proverbs.
And the book of proverbs, which was attributed to him, was a poetic collection, a compendium, a masterpiece of wise sayings.
Or it could be said this way, a compendium/anthology of wise sayings.
When we study the book of Proverbs 17, it is composed of many statements of sayings, and you know what, proverbs is one of the hardest books in the bible to be used in sermon making.
Actually, I’ve learned a lesson in a hard way when I chose this book and the very text that I am using today as my finale in my homiletics course.
If you are not familiar with theological courses, homiletics is the art and science of sermon making.
Aside from being a poetical book, the sectioning of the periscope is one of the most tiresome experiences as a theologian.
It is because there are verses in the book of proverbs that could stand alone, and Proverbs 17:17 is one of them.
Verse 17 in a translation starts with a friend that loves.
This clause links to a brother.
Here, Solomon wanted to emphasize friendship.
But what kind of friendship does Solomon envision?

As human beings, we understand friendship in many ways.
Friendship may be categorized into four types, namely, acquaintance, friend, close friend, and best friend.
We understood friendship as a building process of give and take relationships.
But you know what the text insisted on more than what we define friendship as?
This friendship is much higher than a friend that we understand.
It is because a friend that we understood does not seem to be a brother.
Here, this friend that Solomon was speaking about is a friend who loves at all times, a brother who helps in times of adversity (need).
Hence, this wise saying not only emphasizes friendship but also gives meaning to the words "love and trouble."
 
When we look at the text, the assertion of Loveth is the one who helps.
However, as we dig deeper into its semantics, the text comes from the word oheb, in which it is always associated with friendship and love.
This word occurs 26 times in the Old Testament.
Some of these occurrences took place in Genesis 22:2, which talks about the love of Abraham to Isaac;
Genesis 24:67, which talks about the love of Isaac to Rebeccah;
Lev. 19:18 talks about loving your neighbor;
Deut. 5:10 talks about loving God;
1 Kings 5:1 talks about Hiram and David's friendship; so on and so forth.
Now when we look at it carefully, the syntax of the text, we can find that the friend and brother are interlinked with each other.

The text implicates these two words, a friend and a brother, in one and is the subject of verse 17.
Hence, this means that a person who loves at all times and is born for adversity is a friend and a brother.
Now let me ask you this morning: are you a friend and a brother to the one who betrayed your trust?
Are you a friend and a brother to those who need love and care?
The text, my brothers and sisters in Christ, emphasizes the love that Christ mentioned in the New Testament.
Here we see that Solomon's emphasis on this kind of love is unconditional love.
The agape kind of love.
This oheb is the same as agape in the New Testament.
A love that never fades.
A love that transforms your neighbor into your equal.
However, this is the love that God wants us to possess.
And the person who perfectly manifests this love is none other than Jesus Christ, our true friend.
Who loves us and He demonstrated it at the cross.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, God calls you today to be a friend and a brother.
I know it's hard.
Let's make it harder.

Let’s proceed to the next point, which is adversity.
The Hebrew term which was used is letzarah, which means distress, tribulation, trouble, affliction, anguish, and adversity.
And you know what, this is the most interesting part of this verse.
It is because this noun occurs only once in the Old Testament.
Hence, we cannot find the measurement of distress or trouble in this text to give meaning to the word love.
The word letzarah derives from the word tsarah, which occurs 73 times in the OT.
This word is always translated as "trouble and distress" and is always associated with calamity.
But there was one occurrence of this word that could possibly closely measure how troubled you are.
This event happened in the life of Jonah, inside the belly of the fish.
What is the significance of this?
This means that we are the benefactors of God’s grace.
How?
When Jesus hangs himself on an accursed tree, we who have been considered his friends and have been acquitted of the divine penalty.
What an amazing grace.
What amazing love He has for you and me.
We are in the deepest predicament of losing for all eternity, but thank God, he has vicariously substituted himself for you and me.
What an amazing life.
What an amazing grace that saves you and me.
Jesus loves us so much, but I would like to ask all of you today.
We are all friendly people, aren't we?
Yes, we are friendly, but only to those who are friendly to us.
We are all loving people, aren't we?
Yes, we love those who love us.
We are all caring people, aren't we?
Yes, we care for those who cared for us.

We are loving and caring for our enemies, aren't we?
No, we don't do that. right?

Maybe some of us will say I love my enemies, but unfortunately we have this statement, "I forgive you, but I don’t forget."
In human understanding, we love because we are loved;
we care because we have been cared for.

But something is missing.
We don't do it to those unlovable and neglected so that they may also experience what it is to be loved and cared for.
The sad part is that we only love those friends of ours during pleasant times.
We care during pleasant days, but when calamity strikes, we are nowhere to be found.
Is that truly how we love and care for our friends?
Let us remember that being a friend also means being a brother, and being a brother means making them your responsibilities, just as Jesus gave His life for us.
 
This morning, Proverbs 17:17 reminds us of a friend that loves us so much.
A brother not just on pleasant days but also in adversity.
Yes, we define a friend as the one who helps, the one who spends time with us, the one who makes us happy, the one who encourages, but we don't define a friend that will be with us for a lifetime.
We all know that we are all brothers.
We are all children of God.
As his children and as brothers, we must consider others as our responsibilities.
Being a brother to someone entails doing more than just saying you care.
Betrayals are part of it because we are living in this sin-sick world, but remember the wise saying of Solomon, which is a God-breathing message, reminds us that if we are truly a friend, we are at the same time a brother to Him.
A friend who loves unconditionally and a brother in others' darkest hours
 
Today, some of us were betrayed, but let us remember that there is still a friend that loves unconditionally and a brother at all times.
A friend of Enoch, a friend of Abraham, and a friend of mine.
He is our friend who was crucified at Calvary’s tree, and he still loves us unconditionally.
He hates sin but loves sinners.
He sustains and blesses you, even though you don't love and care for him.
His name is Jesus Christ, our true friend who loves us unconditionally.
 
Today, Jesus invites all of us to be His friends, and in return, he invites us to exude His grace to others.
Before I close this message, I would like to say, never forget how Jesus loves and cares for you.
Jesus is our true friend.

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