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The Burden of Friendship

Sermon Series:


Ryan Kimmel
Ryan Kimmel

Lead Pastor

Peace Church

Main Passage:
Philemon 8-20


Today is the day that the Lord has made. So let us rejoice and be glad in it. And everyone said, Amen. And everyone said, Amen. So I'm going to warn you, today's message is going to feel a little bit heavier. It's going to prep us for what will feel like a very probably different message next week, but we can't feel the great beauty of next week's message if we don't also feel the weight of today's message. We're talking about friendship and we're in week two of a three-part series looking at

friendship and so I'm going to start with a pretty heavy question for you right now.

When was the last time you heard something and you thought, I don't want to hear this but I need to?

When was the last time you heard something you thought, man, I really don't want to hear this, but I need to hear this. And even more than that, who said it to you? Now listen, if I'm doing my job, you're going to hear that from me every now and again. Amen? No, no, no. Amen? Amen. But more than that, more than just a guy behind a pulpit, do you have friends in your life who can say those sort of things to you? Things you may not want to hear, but things you need to hear. If you can't remember the last time you thought that, then my gentle encouragement to you is either A, you're not opening yourself up to friends who will speak like that to you, or you're so prideful you can't hear those things, which is probably why you don't have people speaking like that into your life. Things you don't wanna hear, but things you need to hear.

Now listen, I have pockets and pockets full of stories of where I could tell you about me getting sit down and getting my talking to. And I could share lots of those stories of friends speaking into my life and bringing that challenge, but here's the thing. I don't want you going home remembering a bunch of stories from my life. I want you to go home being challenged by the Word of God. And so that's what we're going to do as we continue walking through this very short biblical book called Philemon.

But before we turn there, I want to go back and look at one Bible verse. Now this Bible verse is like 3,000 years old. For three thousand years the Bible's been telling us this one particular verse, and I wonder if we've gotten the message yet after three thousand years. And it's this, it comes from Proverbs chapter 27 verse 6 and it says this:

Proverbs 27:6

Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.

Let me translate this for you. Meaning, it's better to hear something that's hard but true from a friend than it is to hear something that's kind but false from someone who doesn't have your best interest in mind. Words, you know this, like you know this, words are many things but but many ways words are like knives. Now someone who's not your friend could use words like a knife to stab you in the back. But a friend will use a knife to cut the sin out of your life or to cut the pride or hypocrisy out of your heart. And that's what we're looking at today. We're looking at the weighty burden of friendship where friends have to come together every now and again and there's some friction. Now let's get into this.

So go ahead and if you haven't yet, please turn in your Bibles to Philemon. Now Philemon is so short it only has one chapter. So we're just gonna look at verses 8 to 20 today as we look at the burden of friendship. Now let me lay some context here. Philemon is the name of a man who received this letter. The Apostle Paul actually wrote this letter to a man named Philemon. And the whole letter actually centers on another man named Onesimus. Now Onesimus was a bond servant of Philemon. Now bond servants were like slaves, but not the type of slavery that we have in our history as Americans. It was not a race-based slavery system. In fact, in the ancient world, in ancient Rome, 35 to 40% of the population were bond servants, and yet many of them could still hold jobs and even work their way out of slavery.

But to understand the fuller context of that world, go back and listen to last week's message, because there's some important nuance you need to know. But right now, here's where we're at in our story. So this bond servant named Onesimus, he actually ran away from his master Philemon. He runs away and he runs to Paul. He goes to Paul, and Paul at this point is actually in prison for preaching the gospel. So Onesimus runs to Paul to visit him. Now Philemon, and by extension Onesimus, probably lived in the ancient city of Colossae, which is in modern day Turkey. The Bible refers to that land as Asia Minor. Now Paul wrote this letter. Paul was in Rome, imprisoned in Rome. So this means that Onesimus probably had to run away from Colossae to Rome. I know you don't know, you probably, biblical geography, let me fill in the gaps here. That's a 1300 mile trip. He traveled through modern day Turkey, again, then called Asia Minor. He probably went through Greece, all the way to Italy to see Paul in Rome while he was in prison. And this was all during the first century while he was also a runaway slave. They need to make a movie about that guy's journey.

But check this out, while in Paul's care, one is visiting with Paul, clearly probably trying to go there to get out of his bondage, out of his slavery, what happens is that Paul actually leads Onesimus to Christ. Onesimus becomes a Christian while visiting Paul. And this is where the story gets really interesting. Rather than granting his freedom and sending him on his merry way, what Paul does is he packs up Onesimus and he sends him back to Philemon. Back on this 1300 mile trip after running away trying to seek his freedom. Now, I think that is incredible, and it lays the groundwork for an amazing letter that Paul wrote. And when Paul wrote this letter to Philemon, the nature of this letter is so thick and so weighty that it's gonna challenge the fabric of Philemon's faith and also challenge the fabric of the society and culture that Philemon lived in.

Today if Second Service is anything like First Service, there'll probably be a silent hush over the congregation today as we feel the weight of this. Because here's the reality, you guys know this, social media has absolutely hollowed the word friend. And my concern is that many of us have a lot of quote on quote Facebook friends, but maybe by today you'll realize you don't have very many true friends. And that's gonna be a challenge. But I pray that God's word kind of fills us and encourages us to open ourselves up to some deeper friendships. And so, if you haven't yet, please turn to Philemon chapter, we're gonna look at just verses eight to 20 today, there's only one chapter. And so with that, would you hear God's word, Philemon verses 8 to 20.

Philemon 8-20

8 Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9 yet for love's sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10 I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus,[a] whose father I became in my imprisonment. 11 (Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.) 12 I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13 I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14 but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. 15 For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, 16 no longer as a bondservant[b]but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

17 So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me.18 If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. 19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

Amen, this is God's word. There's a lot here we need to unpack. So let's pray that the Spirit would guide us into that and we'll get going. So let's pray together. Father God, we are thankful for the truth and the power of your word that has lasted through the ages. We're thankful that we who were once enslaved to sin, we are no longer. And this is because of the saving and atoning and the atoning work in the blood of Jesus, who gave his life for ours, dying on the cross and rising again to new life that we might have that very same new life. We thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit who guides us now into better knowledge of your word and your will for us and it's in Jesus name we pray and everyone said amen amen and amen.

So church and friends if I can give you one main point about friendship from this passage from this very challenging passage it would be this:

Being willing to challenge one another in love is a burden of real friendship.

Being willing to challenge one another in love is a burden of real friendship listen to me it stings i don't like saying it but it is a marker of real friendship and so with this this heavy notion we're gonna walk through our passes together and as we do i just want to pull out two points for us here this morning it'd be this here's where we're going.

Friendship burdens us with a challenge.

  1. Firstly, to be the bigger person.

  2. And secondly, to see a bigger picture.

Now, before we dive into our passage, let's go back and look at another proverb real quick. So the book of Proverbs from the Bible, it was collected and composed around the year 1000 BC. And if you know your history, that's right in the prime of the Iron Age. And so it's no wonder that one of the most famous Bible passages on friendship found in Proverbs speaks about iron. I'm sure you've probably heard this verse before. Proverbs 27 verse 17 says this:

Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron and one man sharpens another.

So no surprise that this comes from the Middle East's Iron Age. But here's an obvious question. Does iron sharpen iron? Well, truth is, since 1000 BC, we have found a lot more effective ways to sharpen iron. But does iron sharpen iron? Yes, it can, but it's very laborious. It's not easy, it takes work. But here's the notion here. When iron sharpens iron, it affects both pieces of the metal. It affects both pieces of iron.

Unlike when you use steel to sharpen iron, iron only gets the brunt, not the steel. But when you use iron to sharpen iron, both of them get sharpened. Both of them feel the friction. Both of them are shaped. And so when we talk about the burden of friendship, we need to think about it in the sense of two pieces of metal shaping each other. They are both affected by the friction, which makes both pieces better. And so with this notion of iron sharpening iron behind us, which I think you'll really see play out in real time in real life between Paul and Philemon. I think Philemon is a great example of iron sharpening iron coming out but let's look at the first part here.

1. Friendship burdens us with a challenge to be the bigger person

First point, friendship burdens us with a challenge to be the bigger person. Look at verses 8 and down. So we need to make sure we understand the story that's going on here. Follow me on this. Onesimus runs away from his master and Paul sends him back. And while Paul's Paul, Paul could command Philemon to release Onesimus.

He says, Paul says, I could command you to release him. I could command you to do this, but he doesn't. Paul is saying that he's not going to do this because he doesn't want to be a master to Philemon. He wants Philemon to act in love, just like Paul was doing. Paul was setting an example for Philemon, that he wants Philemon to live out of his own accord. Verse 8, accordingly, Paul says to Philemon, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, release Onesimus. He says, yet for love's sake, I prefer to appeal to you.

I, Paul, an old man now and a prisoner, also for Christ Jesus, I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment." So again, Paul had led this man, Onesimus, to faith in Christ. And so by doing so, had become a spiritual father to him. And that's a bond forged in God's love. Because God's love is the foundational ethic of the Christian faith. It's what unites and binds us together. The Bible says that faith, hope, and love are the things that are going to last beyond everything else. And of those three things, the greatest of those is love. We don't talk about love nearly enough.

This is a bond forged in God's love that makes it almost impossible to break. Love is how we can have disagreements without breaking the relationship.

Now, Paul continues in verse 11. He says, Formally, he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me. Now, I know we don't pick this up in English, but in Greek it's pretty clear. This is a clear play on Onesimus' name, because Onesimus means useful. Paul's saying that now he's a Christian, he's even more useful to what we want to see happen in this world, to what you want to see happen, to what I want to see happen. Paul continues in verse 12, he says, now I'm sending him back to you, sending my very heart. Do you hear the utter love in this? Men, do you speak about love for another man? Or are you too scared someone will call you gay? God owns love, people.

It's His deal. And as Christians, we are to share that love with one another, to hold it up as the thing that binds us together.

He says, I'm sending you my very heart. This is how much Paul loves Onesimus. Verse 15, he said, I would have been glad to keep him with me in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel. For the gospel.

Because a friendship forged by the blood of Jesus through the truth of the gospel, that's a better friendship than a friendship forged on the basketball court. That's a better friendship than simply going to school together. When the gospel is the root of your friendship, there is a deeper relationship available to us. I'm telling you that the friends that I can pray with are naturally going to result in a deeper friendship. I'm going to have a deeper friendship with them. And because we have a deeper friendship, this allows us, me and my friends, to give godly challenges to one another challenges that we need to hear But listen look at verse 14 here.

Verse 14 Paul lays it down He says but I prefer to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness Might not be by compulsion but of your own accord Paul is saying in a very iron sharpens iron moment He says okay my friend. Are you going to be a Christian through and through? This faith that you have is it gonna invade every aspect of your life every area of your life or Only when it serves you I love this section Let's be clear here Paul is wanting Philemon to release on isthmus from his bondage and again, like this was this was an accepted part of their society. Like having slaves, having bond servants, as far as the culture was concerned, Philemon wasn't doing anything wrong. Philemon could have appealed to his culture and be like, what am I doing wrong? This is all accepted.

And yet, Paul is challenging his friend to rise above where his culture is at in order that he might be the bigger person, the more Christ-like person in the midst of this. Philemon could have appealed to the culture, to the ways of the world, to the society at large and say, I'm not doing anything wrong here, I'm obeying the laws, I'm not violating anything. And yet Paul is telling Philemon, you're violating God's law, you're violating God's love. There's a better option for you, and that's what you need to live into. But listen here, Paul, he's not bullying Philemon. He's laying a challenge, because that's what friends do. He's saying to Philemon, now you get to demonstrate the full extent of your faith, even when it drives you to confront the base assumptions of your culture.

You get to either be a Christ-like man or a man of your culture. Which one are you going to be? And that's the type of challenge we all need. Ladies, you need friends to challenge you like that. Men, we need friends to challenge us like that. To challenge us to do the Christ-like thing.

Something bigger than what our society is allowing.Because here's the gospel root in all this, and I'm sure you probably know this. Jesus himself came to set us free eternally and spiritually. And now Paul is telling Philemon, now you get to do the same for Onesimus, just physically and relationally. And let's not forget, if you weren't here last week, Paul led Philemon to faith. Philemon's a Christian because of Paul's ministry. And so, that further forges that bond here. So here's a lesson here.

When we challenge our friends, one of the things that we've got to make sure that we're doing is that we are living out what we are challenging our friends with. Paul is doing that. Paul is saying, I'm a prisoner just like on this mess, but I'm challenging you to rise above. I'm going to rise above you rise above. When we go to challenge our friends, we have to make sure that we are living out the challenge that we are going And I know that when we look at the world today, I know many of you are seeing your friends fall away.

I've seen friends fall away. I've seen kids who were like all-stars in youth group when I was a youth pastor fall away, whether through deconstruction or we simply let the busyness of life keep us from church. I know many of you look at your friends and you want to pull them back in. So here's what I say to you, go do it. But make sure you look in the mirror first. We need to live out the varied challenges that we want to bring to our friends.

But I also want to say this to you, don't wait till you're perfect. Don't wait till you're perfect, right? But listen to me, like when you are challenging a friend with something, it's entirely to say to them, and this is entirely okay to say, you may say to them, listen, I'm not great at this either, but let's do it together. Like, you may, it's okay to say that. And do you know why that's such a powerful statement? Because iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another, and that challenge is challenging us to something deeper, to something better, calling us to be the bigger person, to be the more Christ-like person in this world, that we might rise above the low bar that this world is

setting. It seems like in all facets of our life, like we just try to, as long as we reach the lowest common denominator, then we're okay. And that unfortunately spills even into the church world. I don't have to give to be a Christian. I don't have to go to church to be a Christian.

And what do we do? We lower the bar to the lowest possible common denominator. We feel no obligation to rise above. When the Bible is constantly calling us to demonstrate more and more and better and better Christ-like behavior, because that's proof of the Holy Spirit's work in our lives. Calling us and sanctifying us to conform more to God's will. The challenge that we see here is profound, and it calls us to something deeper, something better, and we need friends in our lives to keep us on that path, giving us and reminding us of the values to live out, but not just the values that we are to live out, a vision to live that out.

2. Friendship burdens us with a challenge to see the bigger picture

That's the second thing we're seeing here. Friendship burdens us with a challenge to see a bigger picture. So check this out. Back to our story. Paul challenges Philemon to do the right thing, to be more Christ-like, to be the bigger person, to set Onesimus free. But he doesn't just give, people hear me on this, he doesn't just give Philemon the what to do, he gives him why. He gives him the why you should do this. He gives Philemon a bigger perspective. Look at verse 15. Paul says, For perhaps this is why Onesimus was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bond servant, but more than a bond servant, as a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both now in the flesh and in the Lord. Paul is reminding Philemon of God's doing something. And that's a perspective so many of us lack.

And I'll just foreshadow our next sermon series is going to drive looking right at that, helping us to have the spiritual lens to see what's happening in the world. But we'll get to that in a couple of weeks. Paul is saying to Philemon, Philemon, once you get Onesimus back, if you release him, you get him back better than what he was before. So he's saying to Philemon, he's like, you need to see beyond the accepted norms of your culture. If you're going to be Christ-like, you can't just wallow in what's accepted in your society. You need to rise above that. You need to even see beyond the immediacy of your own situation. You need to see something larger at play.

Church, when we have a spiritual perspective to what's happening in our life and in our world, when we understand what's happening spiritually, that gives us a bigger perspective. Such as the hardships in your life. The hardships in your life may not just be the things keeping you down, but they may be the very things that God is using to draw you closer to Him.

So listen to your church friends. So listen to your friends, church, and your church friends. Listen to your Christian friends who help you to see a bigger picture. The passage goes on to verse 17. Let's walk through this together. So Paul says this. He says, so if you consider me your partner, receive him, receive Onesimus as you would receive me. If he's wronged you at all or owes you anything, charge that to my account. Okay. So Paul goes from being a friend to to Onesimus. In this beautiful picture of friendship, Paul is now taking Onesimus' burden.

He's taking his penalty. He's taking his fine. And to further remind Philemon what's happening here, listen to verse 19. Now, this is a massive challenge here. This is like a left hook. Verse 19, Paul says, I, Paul, write this with my own hand. I will repay it. All right, stop there real quick. Side note, typically you might have had a scribe who would write down what you're saying, like you dictated to someone. Paul probably had a scribe, and he was just saying this, and a scribe is writing it down. But very likely what happened is that Paul interrupts the scribe and takes the pen and then writes this part with his own hand. You would have seen a change in the handwriting at this point. Paul says, I, Paul, write this with my own hand. I will repay it. But then listen to this challenge. To say nothing of your owing me, even your own self.

Paul's saying, I led you to Christ. You have salvation. You have freedom because I shared the message of Jesus with you. perspective right here. Paul is basically reminding Philemon, Jesus gave his life to save you, so remember Philemon, that your life is not your own, so how could you own another person? That was the left hook. Now here comes the right hook.

Verse 20, it says, Yes brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ. Church, if you're in one of the other venues, I don't think you understand the enormous challenge that was just laid right here. This is the type of challenge we need to hear if we are going to grow stronger in our faith. If you're not getting challenges like this, it's going to be very hard for you to convince me that you're growing in your faith. We need people sharpening us, iron sharpens iron, bringing us this sort of challenge.

Check it out. The word here for benefit, the King James uses the word joy, but there's something else going on here. Philemon is saying, Paul is saying to Philemon, he's saying, Philemon, I led you to Christ, but now I need to see how it's actually changed you. I need to see if the faith that you profess actually means something into the hardest parts of your life. Like, you need to give me some benefit here. I need to know that my ministry is actually effective. Show me that what I'm doing is worth something. I need to know that this faith thing that you profess actually has changed you in ways that will make you reject the culture and conform to a more Christ-likeness. I need to see that benefit from you.

And I'll just be honest with you right now, church. As a pastor, I really resonate with that. It's one thing for me to stand up here and proclaim the gospel and have you all nod your heads and a couple of you people be like amen amen you're a little too scared to say it out loud but like I need to know that what I'm saying to you right now is going to matter to you tomorrow morning at work. I need to know that what I what we're saying that this this faith you profess is actually going

to change your behavior tomorrow at school or this afternoon you get home. Like, when I hear stories like that, I understand why King James used the word joy. There's a benefit there. Paul is saying something we need to hear from our friends. He's saying, if I live in you're a brother in the Lord, but now you need to prove your faith. If you're truly a follower of Jesus, you need to do it in every area of your life.

Again, it's one thing for me to say it from the pulpit, but you need friends who will stand with you face to face and say it to your face. Now, they need to challenge us. We need to hear the challenge. If the faith that we profess is something that just comes out of our mouth, or something we're gonna live out in our life.

What the world does not need is more people saying they're Christians who aren't going to act like it. The world and the church needs Christians who are going to do the things that Jesus did.

We're going to pursue Christ in the ways that He pursued us. Now listen to me. Now when you bring a challenge like this to a friend, I'm not promising it's always going to go good. So let's talk about that for a second here. Because the way a person responds to a challenge shows a lot about the trust that they have with you or the foundation of your friendship. If you say to someone, as a Christian to Christian, if you say to someone, you say you're a Christian but you're not acting like it, for a prideful person, that could end the friendship right then and there. Or if someone responds by saying, who are you to judge me? Again, that shows that either that person is full of pride or your friendship isn't as deep as what you thought it was.

But I'll just confess something to you right now. Now you tell me if you resonate with this. Like when someone brings me a challenge, I'm telling you now, I am a master at flipping it on their head and making them the bad guy. Like I am the undisputed champion of when someone brings me a challenge and they want to challenge me, I'm a slippery little snake and I can find a way out of that challenge and make them the bad guy for bringing me the challenge. You know what I'm saying?

Anybody like that? down and take our talking to by people who love us. Not someone who wants to condemn us, but someone who wants to call us to something greater. That's a burden of friendship, that we do that for one another out of love because of love. Bearing the burden of challenging a friend is revealing to the nature of the friendship that you have because nobody likes to do it, nobody likes to hear it, but at times we need to. Because being willing to challenge one another in love is a burden of real friendship.

Paul took on a huge, listen to me, Paul himself took on a huge burden with the letter of Philemon. He bears the burden for Onesimus. He speaks on his behalf, he challenges his friend in gospel love. He assumes the debt for Onesimus He goes on to challenge the very fabric of Philemon's faith and while also challenging the very fabric of the society that they live in Because being willing to challenge one another in love is a burden of real friendship and as we go through this message series Every every sermon in this message series is going to end with a friendship challenge a way to challenge our friendships to call us into Deeper levels of friendship. And here's this week's friendship challenge.

Friendship Challenge:

In an unfriendly world, we are to bear each other's burdens, and no one did this greater than Jesus Christ.

So let's talk about this for a second. When your friendship develops to the point where you can challenge someone's faith, don't do it by standing on a high pedestal. Do it on their level, because you are on their level. If you challenge someone from a high pedestal in a condescending way, you're not being a friend. But if you bring a challenge to someone in love, not condemnation, then listen to me, then by bringing that challenge, you are also placing that burden on yourself as well. Because you can't just stand there and just challenge someone and stand back with your arms crossed.

If you are a true friend, gonna bring a challenge to someone, then the burden you're going to place on them, you're going to help bear.

You can say, I think you are called to something greater and I'm going to help get you there. If you don't have the time to do that, then don't bring the challenge. Friends are ones who walk alongside one another, bearing each other's burdens. In fact, Galatians chapter six, verse two says this, bear one another's burdens and then so fulfill the law, then so fulfill the law of Christ.

That is like a thesis statement for how a church should operate. That we bear each other's burdens. That if someone's going through a hard time, we come and we pick them up. Let me just state the obvious here. Burdens are the hard things in life. It's the things we don't want to do. It's the things we don't want to say. It's the things we don't want to hear.

But let me just speak to the teenagers here. Teenagers in the house, I know it's much easier to talk about the Lions not making the Super Bowl than it is to bring a challenge to a friend that they act like one person at youth group and a different person at school. Men, I know it's easier to talk about the weather than to challenge a friend as to whether or not he's loving his wife like Jesus loves the church. So let me ask again, when was the last time you heard something and thought, I don't want to hear this, but I need to, and then it also led you to be the bigger person who sees a bigger picture? Yes, you need to hear it from the man behind the pulpit, whether me or if you go to another church, but you also need to hear it from a friend who will stand face to face with you, who will not just condemn you, but who will share that burden with you. And let that picture of friendship start with and be embodied by Jesus Christ, who did not just share our burdens, he took our greatest burdens.

The greatest burden that we have is the sin in our life that separates us from God. That is the greatest problem you have in your life, is that you've got sin that separates you from God. And that's a chasm, that's a sin, that's a burden that you cannot bear or carry or take care of yourself. But Jesus steps in the gap and does that. He carries our burden and stands in our place, taking the punishment for our sins that should have been ours. And so that sin that had separated us from God, when Jesus died for it, he removed that barrier so we could be brought back to God. The barrier and the burden of sin that makes us stand condemned before God, Jesus has removed it and paid it in full.

What Paul was doing for Onesimus, Jesus did for us spiritually and eternally. And when Jesus Christ rose again on the third day, not only was our relationship with God restored, but our new life was granted, because that's what our best friend did for us. He took our shame, he took our guilt, he bears our burdens, and then he walks alongside of us all the way through. That's who we have, because remember, in an unfriendly world, we are to bear each other's burdens and no one did this greater than Jesus Christ. Amen.

Would you please stand? Again, with all things in this message series, we're not using this to see where your friends are falling short. We're seeing this to where you could be become a better friend. Where do you need to bear some of your friends' burdens? Where do you need to step in the gap? Where do you need to show love in the hard places? We're going to close with a song called How Marvelous. And I love this amazing line.

He took my sins and my sorrows, he made them his very own.

He bore the burden of Calvary and suffered and died alone.

When you sing that, remember the greatest friend you could possibly have fulfilled that verse and that passage for you, those lyrics.

So let's pray together. Father, we come before you right now, and we ask God, I ask God, on behalf of this church, that your spirit would come and unite us through the great ethic of Christian love, as we are reminded of the gospel and what Jesus did for us. And so, Father, I pray that this church would stand as friends to one another, singing and worshiping our greatest friend in Jesus. Be with us now by the power and presence of your Holy Spirit, in Jesus' name. Amen.

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