Friends Who Use Words

Words that build friendships include encouragement and truth.

Linn Winters
Aug 27, 2017    35m
Words that build friendships matter. We should be a good friend to others and look for righteous people who can be good friends to us. Words that righteous friends say to each other can be words of gold. Sometimes this means saying the hard thing. What should we look for in good friends? Video recorded at Chandler, Arizona.

messageRegarding Grammar:

This is a transcription of the sermon. People speak differently than they write, and there are common colloquialisms in this transcript that sound good when spoken, and look like bad grammar when written.

Pastor Linn: 00:02 Thank you.

Pastor Linn: 00:09 Hey Cornerstone, you've probably figured this out by now. We're midway through a series that's about friendship and we've been really trying to kind of redefine friendship in many ways and say what does it mean to be just a great friend, an exceptional friend, a friend who benefits others by being their friend. And then what does it look like for you and I to have friends like that in our own life. And so we've just been kind of doing this as a journey through a guy's life by the name of David because we said if you stop to consider this guy who is regarded by many to be the most incredible King ever to lead Israel, that his life left alone really doesn't merit that. That if you take the good things David did you stack him up against the rougher not so great moments in David's life. You'd go wow that's a, that's maybe an average life. But then you see these pivotal moments, these intersections so to speak. When friends stepped into David's life and changed outcomes, sent him in completely different directions and benefited him greatly so that he actually becomes known as one of the most remarkable kings ever to lead Israel, and so we just ask the question, "What does it mean to be that type of friend or to have those types of friends in my life?"

Pastor Linn: 01:28 Today we're gonna talk about words and how many of you would agree that words are super powerful. How many would say I remember a moment, I remember a moment when someone said something deeply hurtful to me and I still remember the words and that remark. I've got a moment guys. I've got a moment in sixth grade forty years ago and I can tell you the words, I can tell you the names of some of the boys who said it. Reverse of that how many of you can remember a moment in your life when someone said exactly the right thing at exactly the right moment. I mean something that just encouraged you that that just gave you motivation to hang on a little longer, move forward make a better decision in your life. And how can you remember a moment like that in your life. Which just only demonstrates, ready that words are powerful which means if you and I are going to be great friends or if we're going to have great friends that words are huge in this conversation and the answer is simply this, great friends say the right thing at the right time. And we just say that again, because great friends have figured out how to say the right thing at the right time.

Pastor Linn: 02:52 Now here's some. Got to get. Sometimes the right thing is a hard thing. Sometimes the right thing is you and I speaking truth into someone's life that they need to hear, it may be uncomfortable. They don't want to hear it but they need to hear the truth. And a good friend says hey I know what I'm about to say is highly uncomfortable. I know I may be risking our friendship right now but I'm going to say this right now. Sometimes saying the right thing at the right time is a word of encouragement. It's a word that says Well well well don't give up, don't lose your place in line right now, I'm just telling you if you'll hang on. There's light at the end of the tunnel if you can't see the way God has built you and equipped you. I'm just telling you he has destined you for crazy amazing things. And sometimes it takes the form of encouragement.

Pastor Linn: 03:47 But here's what you need to know. If you and I are going to be great friends you and I have got to learn to speak both languages, speak in bold voices. We've got to be the type of friend who when our friend needs to hear the truth and the hard thing we have the capacity, we're comfortable saying the hard thing to our friend and we've got to be the friend who when our friend needs a word of encouragement needs to hear, man it's ok, that you and I understand how to lift up a heart as a friend. And you and I today are going to start with a moment in the life of David when a friend does exactly that, does exactly that. Inside of his life. The passage actually happens in second Samuel. You don't have to go there if you don't want to. I'm going to make you go to a bunch of passages today. So if you just want to skip this one I'll read this one to you if you want but if you do want to go there to Second Samuel chapter 19 you can find it by going to the front of your Bible. And then working to the right. So let me set up the moment. That's happening right now. David has a son by the name of Absalom. David's son Absalom has become discouraged with his father. David's had a few moments in leadership that Epsilon has criticized and didn't like. And so he now has positioned himself to say the sooner I become king the better. Even if it means overthrowing my father. And so he begins to go out to the city gate of the capitol city. Well, people would be coming through the city gate to bring their causes to be adjudicated. Hey this person put the boundary line on the wrong side. Hey we did a business deal it didn't turn out. And as they come in Absalom would say we'll hey what's your business here and they would tell them hey we're here we've got a dispute and Absalom would say well you know if I were king I'd decide in your favor. It's too bad I'm not king and he does this over and over and over again until he begins to sway the heart of Israel that he would be a better king than his father. And in that moment when the popularity begins to tip in Absalom's favor he pulls a coup. He overthrows his own father and David and his troops are left fleeing the capital city of Jerusalem. And then if that's not enough Absalom, to seal the deal, goes up on the palace roof and sleeps with all of David's concubines and wives in front of all of Israel so that everybody will know that he has absolute disdain for his father.

Pastor Linn: 06:27 David has rallied his troops and now they're coming back to fight for control of Israel and in the midst of the fight Absalom is leading the troops. He's got long hair and the Bible says he's as he's riding along. He goes under a thick tree the tree grabs his hair. The donkey he's riding goes out from under him and now Absalom is dangling from the tree. One of David's generals sees him and runs him through with three javelins. And as we pick up the story David is grieving for the death of his son. So here we go. It's second Samuel chapter 19. Starting in verse 1 if you happen to go there if you didn't we're okay. Here's what it says: Joab, David's general was told the king is weeping in mourning for Absalom and for the whole army. The victory this day has turned into mourning. So you get the moment. David is so upset about the death of his son. Now all of David's soldiers are going, "Man! I mean did we do the right thing?" and... because on that day the troops heard it said the king is grieving for his son. The men stole into the city that day as men steal and who are ashamed when they flee a battle. So they've won this amazing victory and yet now they're slinking back in with their tail between their legs. Because David's grief is so big and their thinking we've actually done a bad thing today. The King covered his face and he cried out loud. Oh my son Absalom oh Absalom my son my son. Then Joab David's general but more importantly already David's friend, then Joab went into the house to the king and he said today, today you've you've humiliated all of your men who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and your daughters and the lives of your wives and your concubines. You love those who hate you and somehow you seem to hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now you go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don't go out not a man will be left with you by nightfall, he says David look if you continue to do this, if you continue to take the moment when these men were most sacrificial when they were laying their lives on the line for you and you keep turning this into a moment of mourning I'm just telling you you're going to lose the hearts of every man in your kingdom.

Pastor Linn: 09:28 And then he says this will be worse. This will be worse than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth. David this will be worse than Bathsheba. This will be worse than when you killed her husband. David I'm just telling you you probably will never be able to recover from this moment if you do the wrong thing right now. And then he says, so the King got up and he took his seat in the gateway and when the men were told the King is sitting in the Gateway they all came before him. How desperately did those men need David to do the right thing. He almost didn't do it until Joab his friend said David I'm about to tell you something that may be hard. But you need to hear it because I'm your friend.

Pastor Linn: 10:19 So here's the first side of this. Sometimes being friends, sometimes saying the right thing at exactly the right time means saying the hard thing. The thing that our friend is most likely to reject. The thing that's going to cut the deepest in their heart. The thing, the thing that you go look, if I say this I may lose a friend. But I love my friend more than I want to protect the friendship. I'd rather say what he needs to hear, what she needs to hear to bring them to success even if they stop being my friend because I said it, was an absolutely courageous moment of friendship.

Pastor Linn: 10:58 Matter of fact grab your bibles and this time please go with me and go with me to Proverbs Chapter 27. And if you're not familiar if you just simply open your Bible to the middle and then work to the right you're going to find this book of Proverbs which, here's the deal, the rest of us are going to do are in Proverbs Proverbs as written by a guy by the name of Solomon. The wisest man who ever walked the face of the earth and he's about to give you and me some insights into friendship and most specifically into the words we use with our friends. So here we go it's Proverbs Chapter 27 verses 5 and 6, so here's what it says, better is open rebuke. Better to get called out in front of everybody. Which I mean guys let's just be honest, that's like a horribly painful moment right when somebody just announces outloud, "Dude you blew that" and do it in front of all your peers. But Sullivan says better is open rebuke than hidden in love. Because what good does hidden love do. If you love me but you never tell me that you love me it doesn't benefit me, at least open rebuke gave me something to work with and then he goes on, watch this, wounds from a friend, when my friend says the hard thing that I need to hear wounds from a friend can be trusted but an enemy multiplies kisses an enemy someone who really doesn't care about me says what I want hear. Says oh you're fantastic. Oh don't worry about it's really their fault. You didn't say anything you shouldn't have said it doesn't matter. No no no no no no no which means, you're ready for this, that if I say I'm someone's friend and yet I refuse to tell them the hard thing when they need to hear the hard thing I'm not acting like a friend. Solomon would say you're actually acting like an enemy because there are certain moments your friend needs to hear the thing they don't want to hear. And good friends say it. I've got to be willing to say the hard thing to my friend because because, you're ready for this, because I'm not willing for my friend to fail in my silence. See I can see what's coming. I can see the mistake. I can see the regret before it ever gets there but I'm afraid to say it. But here's the deal. I love my friend and I am not willing for them to fail in the midst of my silence.

Pastor Linn: 13:33 Years ago there was kind of a group of us friends and two of them began to date and we'll just change their names. We'll just call them John and Lisa, and John and Lisa started dating. And I mean there was just like this huge animal attraction between the two. They could not keep their hands off of each other. I mean it was to the point of like uncomfortable for the rest of us as friends. But the flipside of it was this not only were they crazy, crazy, crazy attracted to each other but when they faught, I mean it was ugly, the things, the words they would say to each other, the wounds they would make in the midst of an argument was just horrifying and everybody and every one of us in that circle of friends knew that is a disaster waiting to happen. And guess what we didn't do, we didn't muster the courage to sit him down and say hey this is just crazy unhealthy. This is, that there's no way this relationship works long term. And instead we sat in silence and we watched, we watched them get married and we attended the wedding. We watched them have children and then we watch that marriage disintegrate and the damage that went not just of their lives with the lives of their children. And I swore in that moment. I will never sit and watch my friend fail. I'd rather risk my friendship than to let them head to calamity not knowing what I can see. And guys here's my guess, my guess is that if we were honest today every one of us has done that. We've all had moment in our life when we saw what was going on with her friend. We knew, we knew we knew there was no way that turns out good but we were terrified that if we said the hard thing that that would cost the friendship and we chose the friendship over the friend and we sat in silence and everything that we knew was going to happen happened. And our friend failed in our silence because guys I'm just telling you sometimes being a friend means saying the hard thing to our friend.

Pastor Linn: 15:56 But here's the second piece, at the right moment, because guys I don't know if you've caught onto this but saying the hard thing is hard. And so saying the hard thing has to happen you have to do this at the moment when my friend is most likely to receive it and you'll never know that if you're not walking with your friend. You'll never know that if you haven't invested in your friend. But you've got to be watching and say when is my friend ready to hear me say the really really tough thing. And the answer is this, the really really tough thing comes on the other side of frustration and failure. That you and I watch for a moment when our friend is struggling and in the moment of struggle we say hey can I say something right now. Can I speak into this moment right now.

Pastor Linn: 16:48 Now some of you that are truth tellers out there don't take this as license, all of a sudden you're going, "Hey they're failing, how cool is that, yeah I get a chance to say something," so that's not when, it usually comes on the other side of failure. So some of you guys know that my granddaughter Catalina is living with us right now. And the other day Lisa decides to take her skating. Now you got to think about this for a minute. She's lived her entire life till now she's 6 years old in Kenya. She's never seen a skate let alone a skating rink. So they get to the skating rink they lace up her skate she gets them on. And Lisa says OK I'll show you how to skate. To which Catalina says no no I'm going to do this myself. How many guesses do you want. And I don't mean fell down. I mean wham on the floor. She made one lap and she was suddenly open to instruction. And all of a sudden she says OK so let me show you. And guys that's what a good friend, a good friend watches for that moment when a heart is open for instruction and then they step in and say hey what I'm about to say is probably the wound of a friend. What I'm about to say is probably hard to hear but I love you enough to tell you the hard thing and I refuse to let you fail in my silence. Because you're my friend.

Pastor Linn: 18:16 Turn this around. Can I tell you that when the most powerful things you can do in your life is give your friends, trusted friends permission, an invitation to say the hard thing to you. Just a little. You don't have to wait for that perfect moment to do it. I'm just telling you if you see something that I need to see I trust you enough I believe enough that you want the best for me. That if you see something that I need to be seen you have my permission to just come and tell me, it's hugely powerful in your life. Here's just a small way: So I don't know if you guys know this or not. But every Sunday during the first service at church I ask the best communicators that we've got on staff to be in the service and to watch my message and to look for the flaws and the mistakes. So then when first service is over we go into the back room and here's a guy now remember we get 20 minutes to turn it. So they've got ten minutes to tell me how bad my sermon was. And any of you in this room that are communicators you know that your communication feels like a child to you. And yet I've given permission to these people, and just say look you can say whatever you need to say you don't shirk. We've got ten minutes for you to say it and then I've got ten minutes to fix it. So just back the truck up and dump it on me. And I'm just going to be honest with you, there were moments that were painful because they're wrong most of the time. No I mean. It's painful. Let me tell you why I do this. Because I would rather go through the pain of the review than to spend the next three sermons making mistakes and find myself in a car driving home and going oh if I just would have landed that illustration maybe a few more people would've gotten further spiritually, if I hadn't taken so much time on that point I could have gone after the other point that never did land and I refuse to spend the next three services making mistakes. Now guys that's a little thing. But here's why this is powerful. Here's why you want friends who say the hard thing to you and you give him permission to do it because you don't want to spend the next three years making the same mistakes in your marriage. And if you haven't given permission then your friends may never say to you what you need to hear today. So that you don't spend three years ripping it up. You don't want to wait until you're packing the boxes at work into your car because you've just been released and someone say to you you know I saw that coming. And guys I'm just telling you one of the most powerful things that you can do is give your friends permission to speak truth to you.

Pastor Linn: 21:18 Here's my question. Do you know someone. Do you know someone right now who is suffering because you've remained silent. Do you know someone who needs to know what you know. And you've been too cautious, too hesitant, too fearful to actually say to them what they really needed to hear from a friend.

Pastor Linn: 21:50 Other side, sometimes sometimes saying the right thing at just the right time is a word of encouragement. It's a moment in which we just say hey look no no no don't give up right now. You're almost there. I mean it. Do you not see that God has gifted you, do you not see his purpose for life is written all over. I mean come on you are amazing at this. Why would you stop at this.

Pastor Linn: 22:15 Grab your Bibles one more time. It's Proverbs Chapter 25. So it's just a few pages over, Proverbs Chapter 25. OK. I want to warn you this is Solomon so sometimes because he's like up here what he says sounds a little weird until you think about it. OK so here we go. It's Proverbs Chapter 25. I'm actually going to read this to you. The King James version because I think it hits the passage a little more firmly. Here's what it says. Proverbs chapter 25 verse 11, a word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. Did that just change your life or what I mean is that right. Here is the moment, a word fitly spoken. Aptly spoken. The right word you and I saying the right thing in the right moment fitly spoken is like Apples of Gold in pictures of silver. Now here's what Solomon would say if you would have walked in the average household within Israel at the time you're talking about third world country type of an effect. I mean we're talking you know basic no middle class, lots of poverty. But if you walked into a rich person's house they would make sure that as you walk through the door you saw this statement piece of their house, apples of gold in pictures of silver. It's that moment you come through the front door and you go wow. It's the statement piece for everything else. And here's what Solomon says, when a friend says that encouraging word in that moment when you are ready to give up. When a friend says hey come on you can do this. And you thought you couldn't. That moment of encouragement actually has the power, think about this, to become this statement piece, the wow moment. In your friend's life it's the power of an encouraging word said it exactly the right time.

Pastor Linn: 24:39 Years ago, I've done youth ministry for 17 years and I know something else is coming. I just don't know what something else looks like. And so I decide hey in order to get ready for something else I've got my bible degree but I probably need to get a master's. And so I'm driving down to Talbot and I'm working on my master's degree. I don't want to drive alone and I need someone to get in the carpool lane. So I invite Brent Richardson to ride with me. Now as for those who don't know, Brent Richardson is here on staff. He's our men's ministry guy. He helped me plant the church back in the day and he was serving with me in California. So here's Brent and I and we're driving down to Talbot so hour and 20 minutes down. Hour and 20 minutes back taking classes together. And as we're doing it I had had a group of men who came to me and said Linn we think you ought a church plant. To which I laughed. I said No no no no no no no. Not a chance. And here's what you got to know. Twenty years ago church planting was not sexy. Twenty years ago church planting was for losers. So what would happen is if if your district executive or whoever it couldn't find you a job in ministry anywhere you've gone on 10 or 12 or 15 interviews and gotten passed on real quick they would usually come to you they'd put their arm around you and go hey you ever thought about starting your own church which was code for your unhireable. So now they're coming to me and saying hey Linn you know ever thought about planting your own church I'm going and I think I'm pretty insulted. I think I've done a lot of good ministry for a lot of time and now you're telling me...

Pastor Linn: 26:22 So I told Brent about this and as we were driving down to Talbot we start talking about what the church plant would be like, the one we're not going to do and then we'd be coming back up the hill and we'd start talking more about that church plant we're not going to do but if we didn't we would do that. And I'm telling you after a while this thing got life and they got energy. And finally Brent looks at me and he goes you could do this Linn. You could do this, maybe should do this and if you would do it I would do it with you. I think we could go do it. And I go Brent you know we're going to leave good jobs. We're going to raise money like missionary. I mean it... No. And then I think we ought to pray about it. So I said OK I'll pray about it which is Christian code for would you please shut up. Right. That's what I'll pray about it is, my answer is no. But I'll pray about it. Right. So we agreed, you ready, we agreed to two weeks of praying about it and not talking about it. One week goes by Brent calls me on the phone. He says Linn what do you think, and I said we're not supposed to be talking about. He says I know but I already know my answer. And I think you do too. I said I do Brent. We got to go do this. Okay guys, ready for this?A friend speaking the right encouragement in exactly the right moment in my life is the reason that Cornerstone's even here and you realize that in the 21 years since that conversation happened in a car drive back and forth to Talbot that 10,000 people have come to know Christ in this place because a friend spoke the right word of encouragement in exactly the right moment. Here's here's the cool thing about encouragement. You realize encouragement is much easier to do than speaking the truth, which means the window of opportunity for encouragement is wide open. You can you can encourage somebody almost any time. OK here's what. Don't encourage people all the time because if you encourage Oh that's great. Oh that's great. If everything is great then nothing is great. But I'm just telling you the window of opportunity to speak encouragement is pretty much wide open. You can tell me how good I am. Anytime you want encouragement's OK.

Pastor Linn: 29:02 Ladies, I'm going to lean in just a little bit. Remember a couple of weeks ago I leaned into your husbands. It's your turn. If you would master the power of encouragement, because ladies I'm just telling you there's probably no other human being other than maybe his mother and his father that your husband wants to hear you're doing a good job from and there's, and there's something about how God wired you as a woman that within your maternal instinct you actually believe that fixing people is loving. You need to know that wired within him. The idea of you constantly fixing him is repugnant he calls it nagging, matter of fact there's a verse in the Bible that a man wrote that said better to live on a roof than inside a house with a nagging woman. A man wrote it. OK I'm just I'm just saying. So so low. What if instead of trying to fix him all the time you decided to encourage him. Because here here's what he's thinking you are ready for this. When we were dating I was wonderful. You didn't care how I peed. I could I could not wash my clothes for two months and then do the smell test. And you were fine. And now all of a sudden that's all broken. And ladies I'm just I'm really. Can I just tell you the power of encouraging your husband and the next time instead of saying to him you never bring spiritual leadership to our family. You get that kills him. How much more powerful if you said hey would you go in and read the little bible story to our kids tonight. He's going to do it for like a minute and he's going to come out but encouragement can I tell you that when I see you reading Bible stories to our kids I'm never more proud that you're my husband. What's the next story. Wow. If that, if that gets praise and ladies I'm just telling you if you'd put the shoe on the other foot your marriage should be blessed.

Pastor Linn: 31:33 Here's a cool thing here. Here's a take home from this part of the conversation. If you and I are going to be good friends you and I have to learn both voices. We have to learn the voice of telling the truth and we have to learn the voice of encouragement. Here's why. This becomes super super powerful when you and I can do both. If you're primarily a truth teller that's the thing that comes natural for you. Telling everybody how stupid they are if that's what's natural. You realize that in the moment you step over and say wow that was amazing, that the people who know you in that moment go wow this person is so inclined to see what's not right. There always a truth teller, that if they're telling me that was good it must have been great. And you realize in that moment the volume of your words just gets turned to ten. If you're an encourager that's your first foot forward. It's what people know you for. The moment you have the courage to be a truth teller. Guess what that says to your friend. Boy this must be a big deal because my encouraging friend who almost never says the hard thing thought this was so important. That they stopped and said the hard thing. It must be a big deal. And literally your voice becomes the loudest when you step into the part of this that you're least comfortable with. And that's powerful.

Pastor Linn: 33:14 Here's I don't want you to do -- with everybody's heads bowed and your eyes closed and I want you to take a moment reflect on what we've talked about today and here's what I want to ask you. We just spent a lot of time talking to God. Is there a friend in your life who is failing right now in the midst of your silence. And that actually the most friendly thing you could do would be to go and say the truth. Does anyone have permission to be a truth teller to you. Have you invited anybody and said look you don't have to wait for the right time. I trust you enough you can say with a hard thing to me whenever you need to say. Does anyone have that permission in your life. If they don't you're not letting someone be a good friend to you. And then finally is there somebody who is absolutely thirsty right now for your praise. Your a word of encouragement would be like a fresh cup of water in their lives. It might even become the statement piece of their lives. If you were to encourage him right now. And if God brought anybody to your mind while we ask those questions then what would it mean to leave this place and just be a great friend with your words. Dear Lord Jesus we come to the moment. And words are so powerful. God give us the courage, give us the wisdom to leverage our words for your kingdom and for our friends benefit. Help us to be amazingly, amazingly well spoken friends who say just the right thing in just the right moment. And this we ask in Jesus name. Amen.

Recorded in Chandler, Arizona.
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Cornerstone Church
1595 S Alma School Road
Chandler, Arizona 85286