Closer Than a Brother
Pastor John Sloan
Introduction: Americans are the loneliest people in the world. Thus revealed a study in one of our country’s most trusted journals. But what’s the source of the problem? Is it Facebook, as some contend, and the freedom it affords to have connectivity without intimacy? Is our isolationism the consequence of the frenetic pace that characterizes so many families? The answer is not easy to identify. Yet, according to Solomon, things can be different. Deep meaningful relationships are possible … it just takes wisdom to find (and foster) them.
Questions for Discussion & Discovery
1. What are some ways we tend to “isolate” ourselves (verse1) from those around us? Are there areas in your life that you insist on keeping private?
2. What does it mean to “break out against all sound judgment” (verse 1b)?
3. In what sense are we, as human beings, created for relationship?
4. Read verse 17. When have you been inclined to quickly side with the first person to share her side of the argument? What is a wiser way to respond in this scenario?
5. How is the friendship of Jesus Christ different than all other relationships? What has he done that no one else can ever do?
6. What does Jesus’ greatest display of friendship (John 15:13) tell us about the nature of his love for us?
1. From the book Life’s Little Instruction Book:
“Never give up on anybody. Miracles happen every day.”
“Have a firm handshake and look people in the eye.”
2. “The worldview represented in the wisdom literature is fundamentally opposed to a modern scientific approach, as it is pursued in most universities and research institutions. There, specialized knowledge is valued over a broad understanding of the world and the human place in it. Yet, even in our culture, [there is] a longing for something that will serve as guidance in making right choices in the midst of the bewildering flux of immediate experience.” – Ellen Davis
3. Read Proverbs 18:1.
4. 01. Life-giving friendships are cultivated through a pattern of relational pursuit.
5. Read verses 18:6, 13, 17, 19.
6. 02. Relationships are sustained by mutual patience, and a willingness to suspend judgment until all facts are weighed.
7. Read verse 18:24.
8. “He who makes many friends doeth it to his own destruction.” – Proverbs 18:24
9. 03. Joy and security are found not in the quantity but the quality of our friendships.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” – John 15:13
11. “You might have many pseudo-friends who will let you down, even when everything is on the line. But you can have one Friend who sticks closer than a brother. When he laid down his life for his friends at the cross, he was forsaken, though he was loyal, so that we would never be forsaken, though we are disloyal.” – Ray Ortlund Jr.