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Sabbath School Lessons on Religion in Relationships
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 5: Friendship *
Introduction: Have you heard the old saying, "A friend in need is a
friend indeed?" Lately, I've heard it modified to "A friend in need
is a pain in the neck!" Is there common ground between these two
statements? Does the truth of the saying depend on whether you are
the "needy" friend? What, really, is a friend? How should you select
friends? What counsel does the Bible give us on friendships? Let's
jump into our study and find out!
- Money and Friends
- Read Proverbs 18:24. If one friend is good, wouldn't two
or more be better?
- Or, are friends, like spouses? We learned last week
that one man, one woman for life was God's ideal.
- Why do you think "many companions" can cause us to
come to ruin? (I think this text says that when you
have many general acquaintances, none of them are
close enough to really want to help you out when you
face ruin. You are just, as the modern saying goes,
"a pain in the neck" to them. On the other hand, a
true friend will help you out when you are facing
disaster. That is the "friend indeed.")
- Read Proverbs 19:4 and Proverbs 19:6-7. Why does money
affect friendship? (People want to be your friend if they
think they can benefit from it. That is the point of verse
- Is this a description of the way life is or the way
life should be?
- If a true friend sticks with you in trouble, why
would a poor man's friends and relatives desert him?
(Either these are not true friends, or this says
something about constantly asking others for help.)
- Are relatives more dependable than friends?
(Relatives generally do not choose you for a
relative. The idea is that they have an
obligation because of the family relationship.
Verse 7 suggests that this relationship has a
practical limit - but a limit that exceeds the
limits of your friends.)
- Have you met "needy" people? Have you found
yourself thinking, "If I hook up with this
person they will always be asking me for
something. I should avoid them."
- Compare Proverbs 17:17 with Proverbs 17:18. How would
you draw the line between friendship and lacking
judgment? (You should not come to the point where you
are a "guarantor" for the bad judgment of needy
friends. A true friend knows that you will "be there"
in times of adversity, but "being there" might not
mean that you will rescue your friend from all
- Read Proverbs 27:10. What does this tell us about
friends in need? (There are long-term friends of the
family who have a special claim our help. Note that
here friends are preferred to distant relatives.)
- As you consider these texts that we have read, what advice
do you find on friendship? (Don't expect to rely on
superficial friends. Avoid being a "needy" friend as much
as possible. If you are a true friend, you will help in
times of need.)
- Advice and Friends
- Read Proverbs 22:11. What should you do if you desire to
have friends - especially powerful friends?
- What is "gracious" speech?
- Read Proverbs 27:6. Why would your enemy kiss you? Why
would your friend wound you? (Read Proverbs 27:9. The
point of these texts is that you should trust your friends
to give you "straight" advice. They should not lie to you
just to make you feel good. Your friend should tell you
what is in your best interest - and you, if you are wise,
will not take it as an insult. You should not feel
"wounded" by the earnest advice of your friend. At the
same time, we learned from Proverbs 22:11 that our
"straight" advice as friends should be "gracious.")
- Selecting Friends
- Read Proverbs 22:24-25 and Proverbs 12:26. Why is making a
judgment about potential friends so important? (You are
influenced by your friends.)
- Think about the friends you have right now, and tell
me some phrase, style or mannerism that you have
learned from them?
- What have they learned from you?
- Can you see any positive influence you have had on
those around you? How about a negative influence?
- Read the first sentence of 2 Corinthians 6:14. What do you
think is meant by being "yoked?" Give some examples.
- Read the rest of 2 Corinthians 6:14-15. What argument does
Paul make about why we should not be "yoked" with
unbelievers? (Paul says we have little, if anything, in
common with unbelievers.)
- Why is that important? (Read 2 Corinthians 6:16-17.
It seems Paul is warning us about the influence of
others. We are the temple of God, therefore we should
not be tainted by the unhealthy influence of those
who do not follow God.)
- How can we positively influence others if we have to be
separate from them? (This series of texts teaches us two
things. First, bad influences have more effect on close
relationships than good influences. We are not called to
be separate from those that do not follow God, we are
called to refrain from close relationships with them.)
- What about close "non-human" relationships? Are you
"yoked" with television? Video games? Movies? Steven King
novels? Do these influence your thinking?
- Consider that in the group of influences that I just
mentioned, the influence is absolutely "one-way."
Only you can be influenced. You cannot "influence
- Friendship Example
- Read 1 Samuel 19:11-12. Who are the cast of characters
here? (Saul is the King. David is the "King in waiting."
Michal is David's wife and Saul's daughter.)
- Read 1 Samuel 20:1. Jonathan is King Saul's son - and
potentially Jonathan and David are rivals to the throne.
What does David want to know from Jonathan? (He is looking
for "insider information.")
- Other than information, what is David demanding?
(Justice. He wants to know what the charges are
against him that the King would want to kill him.)
- We previously discussed the saying "a friend in need
is a pain in the neck." Is David a friend in need?
- Read 1 Samuel 20:2. Does Jonathan have any inside
information on this subject?
- Does Jonathan normally have inside information?
- Read 1 Samuel 20:3. Why theory does David suggest as to
why Jonathan is wrong about the plans of King Saul?
- What level of trust does David have in Jonathan?
- If you were Jonathan, what might cross your mind?
(That if David were killed, then your path to
becoming the king would be clearer.)
- On this question of what Jonathan stood to gain
by David's death, skip ahead and read 1 Samuel
20:30-31. What did Jonathan stand to gain?
- How do you treat your friends when only one of
you can have the advantage?
- Read Philippians 2:3-4. And 1 Samuel 20:4. Is Jonathan
following God's advice about friendship? (Most
- Notice that Philippians 2:4 tells us it is okay to
look to our own interests. Is Jonathan looking to his
- Read 1 Samuel 20:5-11. David proposes a plan to determine
whether he is truly in danger or not. How much trust is he
placing in Jonathan?
- Why does Jonathan ask David to go into the field with
him? (Jonathan is concerned about others learning
about what David and he are planning. Surely those
around Jonathan were loyal to him and they might not
be as generous towards David as is Jonathan. They
might have the same attitude as King Saul.)
- Read 1 Samuel 20:12-16. Recall that I just asked you if
Jonathan was looking out for his own interests? Now that
you have read more of the story, what is your answer to
that question? (Jonathan understood that God was going to
make David the King. He knew that would put both himself
and his family in danger - because as "rivals" to the
throne, David's friends would want to destroy him and his
family. He extracted from David a promise of protection.
He was looking out for his family.)
- Read 1 Samuel 20:17. What made David and Jonathan such
perfect friends? (Read Mark 12:29-31. Jonathan and David
perfectly fulfilled the command to love each other as they
loved themselves. If it were not for Jonathan's
understanding of the will of God regarding the kingship of
David, we could say that Jonathan loved David more than he
- I suggest you read the rest of this story on your own.
Jonathan saves David's life. Although Jonathan is
ultimately killed in battle with his father, David keeps
his word to Jonathan's remaining family.
- Friend, how careful are you about the friends you choose?
How would you rate yourself as a friend? Do you measure up
to the Biblical standards for friendship?
- Next week: Religion in the Workplace.
* Copr. 2004, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.