Faithlife Sermons

Real Friends - when and how to leave a friendship

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When and How to leave a friendship.
Ask: How many of you have ever been in a relationship that drifted apart whether it was someone you were dating or someone you were friends with.
There was a friend I had back in middle school. He was my best friend for a few years. We made a lot of memories. I busted open my finger at his house once it was awesome.
But one day we were in music class and he was trying to impress some girl. And he poked fun at me trying to be funny. I was getting embarrassed and so I retaliated, I said well at least I don’t have big feet. Then things escalated and class let out and he was like playfully hitting me and so I hit him back and called him a name and he tried to swing at me. And I was like spiderman, I just dodged it. And I did not fight him. He was trying to get me to but I thought it would be stupid. So I walked away from him and went home.
After that, we stopped being friends.
It sucks when friendships end. Especially when they seemed to be good ones. But it seems like God makes a way for friendships to end when they need to.
What we also need to do is figure out for ourselves, when and how we should end a relationship whether it is a friendship or maybe a dating relationship.
So we are going to look at a passage in the Bible where we see two friends separate, but they do so in a way that benefits both of them.
ACTS 15:36-41
After some time had passed, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit the brothers and sisters in every town where we have preached the word of the Lord and see how they’re doing.” Barnabas wanted to take along John Mark. But Paul insisted they should not take along this man who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone on with them to the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed off to Cyprus. But Paul chose Silas and departed, after being commended by the brothers and sisters to the grace of the Lord. He traveled through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
So some context here to help us understand what’s going on. Paul and Barnabas are like church planters and so they wanted to go back and check on the churches that started up. But Barnabas wanted to bring along his cousin Mark. The problem that Paul had was that Mark abandoned Barnabas and Paul when they went on a trip before. So Paul was not willing to give Mark a chance, but Barnabas was. So they disagreed to the point where they just separated.
So the question we have to ask ourselves is “When is it ok to split up?”
When Values Clash
Barnabas wanted to give Mark another chance. Maybe he could help him, maybe he could change him to be more faithful. But Paul must’ve seen something in Mark that was passed trying to fix when it came to going on a mission trip, so he saw no reason to give Mark another chance for that mission at least.
Paul may have wanted Mark to grow in his faith before going on another trip, but Barnabas might have just wanted to take him with because he thought he could help him better than Paul
Paul valued the mission, Barnabas valued his cousin.
We have to ask ourselves, “What do we value.” If you want to know what to value and what not to value just ask yourself , “Would Jesus value this.” You’ll easily be able to figure it out.
As Christians we value our bodies, we value showing love to others, most of all, we value becoming more like Jesus.
However, there may be some people in your life that do not value those things and even try to push you to remove those values or to test your values by pressuring you into breaking them.
Some of your friends love to gossip, some of your friends like to vape, some of your friends like to treat other people like garbage, some of your friends like to be sexually active.
But if you are a Christian, you should not love those things and you should let your friends know that. But if they don’t care about what you value and make you feel pressured to do what they like to do and what you hate to do, you better split.
Some of you guys are making excuses with some of your friends and girlfriends. “I feel like I can fix them if I give them some time. I feel like I am the person that they need in their life.” Now some of you say that, and maybe there is some good intent, but what i’ve seen is that people that say that just don’t want to be alone so they make up excuses for why they should stay with someone else even though they are toxic.
So I want to tell you, you can’t fix anyone. God is the only one in the business who can fix people. Don’t be God for someone who actually needs Him. People can be like poison and if you don’t remove yourself from them, they will hurt you and your relationship with God.
Now We have to ask the question, How do we actually split with people? But Here’s what we have to ask with that,
How do we split with people in a way where we both benefit?
1. Identify the disagreements and ask if they are worth splitting over.
Ask yourself why you need to split.
For Paul and Barnabus, it was because Paul didn’t believe Mark was ready to go on another mission trip. He might’ve needed some time before he went on another one.
Some disagreements are not worth splitting up for. I like coffee, you like tea. OK we’re good. I like playing nintendo switch, you like playing XBOX, ok we’re good. You’re into gossipping, I think talking about people behind their back is wrong because they can’t defend themselves.
When someone can’t find a problem with their sin, that's when you should question whether or not you should be close with them.
So after identifying the disagreement
2. You need to then confront that person about the disagreement.
OK, so you gossip, we should talk about that. Why do you gossip? Why can’t you confront that person instead of talking behind their back? Why do you gossip if God hates that? You don’t see a problem with gossip?
Ok here’s what I think.
You don’t need to be judgmental, you need to be loving.
As a Christian, I really don’t believe that gossip is good. I think it hurts people and I don’t want to be someone who hurts people. I don’t think you want to be a person that hurts people either, and right now I’m in a place in my life where I’m reconsidering my relationships because I want to grow in my faith.
Hopefully that person is understanding, but they may not be and you can’t control that. You just have to do what is best for your relationship with God and even consider how you can do that in the most loving way possible. That’s why I even mentioned that the other person may not have a desire to hurt people.
Last thing, and this is an attitude thing -
Don’t treat the person you’re splitting up with like an Enemy
When Paul and Barnabus fell-off they were still partners in the faith. It actually benefited both of them where instead of their being one mission trip there were actually two. They benefited because even though they disagreed, they didn’t become enemies.
Check out this passage it’s important as we think about the attitude we have when it comes to splitting from a friend.
1 Peter 3:8-9 CSB
Finally, all of you be like-minded and sympathetic, love one another, and be compassionate and humble, not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult, on the contrary, giving a blessing, since you were called for this, so that you may inherit a blessing.
You don’t have to continue to be friends. But that doesn’t mean you have to become an enemy.
You can pray for them, forgive them, be kind to them, speak well of them, and assume the best in them.
Choose to be the one who takes the high road, even when it’s difficult. This will be challenging but the
work is worth it.
It won’t be easy, but the person who will benefit the most is YOU. Imagine the pain you’ll spare yourself by
not holding grudges, starting wars, or trying to get even. Seasons change, people change, and friendships
change. Sometimes people simply go in separate directions. But YOU can do it in a way that doesn’t devalue the friendship or the other person.
When you head to small groups, think about your response to this question:
What feelings come up when you think about changes to your friendships?
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