WATCH YOUR FRIENDS!
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 6:14–18, 7:1
Memory verse: 2 Corinthians 6:14
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.”
Illustrate the theme of this week’s study with an activity involving teamwork. Divide the students into two or three teams, each team consisting of an even number of players. Instruct each team to divide into pairs. Each pair must stand back-to-back and link arms. If there are an odd number of students, ask for a volunteer to help you judge the winner.
Instruct the teams to line up across one end of the classroom. At your signal, one pair of students from each team must head for the opposite wall. One member of each pair will be walking forward, the other backward. The pair must touch the opposite wall in the room, reverse walking roles, and go back to tag the next pair on the team (or the finish line if there is only one pair per team). Continue this in relay race fashion until all the players on one team have finished the race.
After the game, discuss with the students how difficult it is for two people to travel together when they are going in opposite directions. Tell them this idea is what Paul wrote about to the people in Corinth, the focus of this week’s study.
Hearing God’s Word
Ask: What makes a person a good friend? (Allow responses.)
Good friends are great to have. Paul knew friends are important because he referred to them in his second letter to the Corinthian church.
Paul’s Purpose for Second Corinthians
Paul’s main purpose in writing this letter was to assure the Christians he was an apostle chosen by God to preach the gospel. Some people in the church were questioning why Paul had the right to be giving them instructions. (Let a student read 2 Timothy 3:10, 11.) Paul had endured many persecutions and hardships during the course of his ministry, but God had delivered him from them all.
One of the concerns Paul expressed was in the area of friendships, or the type of people with whom the Christians were associating. Paul knew the people with whom we spend most of our time have a great influence on the way we think and act. He wanted the Corinthian Christians to be wise in choosing people to confide in and trust.
Friends Influence Each Other
Sometimes we do not realise how we are being influenced by others. Have you ever wanted a particular style of clothes because “everyone is wearing it”? Or perhaps you want a CD player because everyone is talking about it at school. It is not wrong to want friends, but we must be aware of how they influence us. Is this influence positive? Do our friends help us draw closer to God? Or is their influence negative, pulling us toward sin?
Examples of Good and Bad Friendships
Ask: Can you think of an example of an unhealthy friendship in the Bible? (Allow several responses.)
One example is Samson and Delilah. Samson became a friend of Delilah, a sinful woman. The Philistines offered Delilah a lot of money if she would persuade Samson to tell the secret of his great strength. Delilah wanted the money. She cared about her own happiness more than Samson’s. She begged Samson until he told her his secret. Then she told the Philistines, even though she knew Samson would be hurt. (Refer to Judges 16:4–21 for more details.) God’s power left Samson, and the Philistines captured him. He was blinded and forced to grind grain in prison.
An important quality of good friends is that they want what is best for each other. Delilah’s scheme may have made her richer, but it ruined Samson’s life. Delilah was not a true friend.
Ask: Can you name some examples of good, healthy friendships in the Bible?” (Allow responses.)
An example of a good friendship is the one between Jonathan and David. Jonathan cared about David even though Jonathan’s father, King Saul, hated David and wanted to kill him. As the king’s son, Jonathan was to be the next king of Israel after Saul died. But Jonathan knew David would become king instead. Jonathan could have been jealous, but instead he did all he could to help David. His friend meant more to him than a possible position in the future.
As we have seen, friendships can either help us or hurt us.
Ask: So how should we choose good friends?” (Allow responses.)
Choosing Good Friends
Paul gave the Corinthian Christians special instructions in choosing their close friends. He said, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14.) That is our memory verse this week. (Repeat the verse a few times.)
What is a yoke? (Draw a simple yoke on the chalkboard.) It is a wooden frame placed on a team of oxen to help them work together in ploughing fields. The yoke keeps the oxen moving in the same direction so the fields will be ploughed in nice, straight rows. Also, the yoke keeps the oxen from using their energy pulling against each other. The yoke helps the oxen’s owner get better work from them.
Paul knew that Christians and unbelievers are working for two different masters. Christians live under God’s control; unbelievers live under Satan’s control. Paul warned the Corinthians that close relationships between these people would cause problems.
Ask: Why do you think this is so? (Allow responses.)
First of all, Christians and unbelievers are not working for the same goals. As Christians, our goal is to please God and follow His commandments. This is the only way to have true joy and happiness. The unbeliever’s life does not please God. He is still ruled by his own selfish desires.
Sometimes you may feel the Holy Spirit leading you to behave in a way an unbeliever would not, such as to ignore someone who is saying unkind things about you. An unbeliever might encourage you to get even. What should you do, listen to your friend or follow the Holy Spirit’s leading? It is much easier to do right when your friends encourage you to do so.
Ability to Pray
Christian friends are important for another reason.
Ask: What do you need from a friend when you are going through a really hard time? (Allow responses)
You need someone to pray for you. A Christian friend knows how to pray. Unbelievers do not have the relationship with God that Christians have. They do not understand what prayer can do.
Share the Same Values
Christian friends also will share your values. They know right from wrong and will not encourage you to sin. True friends will not put us in a place where we might compromise our beliefs in God’s Word. They share the same feelings we do about living for God.
Ask: Should we avoid people who are not Christians? (Allow responses.)
Influence Others for God
During His earthly ministry, Jesus was a friend to people of all backgrounds. He talked with them and visited their homes. He was even criticized for associating with some of them. But Jesus never allowed His friends to influence Him to do wrong. Jesus wants us to follow His example by caring about those who are not Christians. However, we must always be careful to influence others for good rather than letting them influence us to sin.
Jesus prayed a special prayer for all believers. (Ask a student to read John 17:15.) He prayed that we would be kept from the evil of the world. But He did not pray that God would take us out of the world.
Why would God leave us here where there are so many bad influences? (Let a volunteer read Matthew 5:14–16.) God wants us to be witnesses so others will think about God and be drawn to Him. However, we must remember that the kind of friends we choose can influence the credibility of our influence.
Are We Good Friends?
We have spent a lot of time on the topic of choosing Christian friends. What about us? Are we the kind of friends other Christians would want to have? Do we influence others to do right or to do wrong?
If you are not the kind of friend you would like to be, ask God to help you. The Holy Spirit can give you power to be a good influence on others. He will make you a witness that will draw others to Jesus.
Accepting God’s Word
It is wonderful to have Christian friends, but it is also easy to hide behind a Christian friend’s beliefs without making a personal decision to serve God. Stress that going to Bible study and church may provide good opportunities for spiritual teaching and growth. But these do not establish a relationship between someone and God. A personal commitment to Jesus is needed for that.
(Ask if there are any students who want to make Jesus their best friend. Pray with any who respond.)
Present the information about the Tenbo tribe given below.
Meet the Tenbo
The Tenbo tribe is located in the forested savannah region of northeast Cote d'Ivoire and southwest Burkina Faso. The vast majority of Tenbo people are subsistence farmers, living in small villages of between 50-100 people.
The Tenbo people are animist in the sense that they believe that the inanimate objects they create represent the spirit world.
Evangelism in the Tenbo language began in 1992, and since then, approximately 400 Tenbo people in Cote d'Ivoire have become Christians. In Burkina Faso there are only a few isolated Tenbo Christians, and no functioning Tenbo churches.
REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for the Tenbo Tribe
1. God to prepare the hearts and minds of the Tenbo to receive the gospel,
2. Burkina Faso believers to become aware of the need among the Tenbo,
3. The Lord to call a believer to go and live among the Tenbo.
"He (God) lifts up a banner for the distant nations (tribes), he whistles for those at the ends of the earth" (Isaiah 5:26).
MORE INFORMATION: www.joshuaproject.net
Remember: WATCH YOUR FRIENDS!
Memory verse: 2 Corinthians 6:14
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers.”
1. Good friends are a gift from God.
2. My friends will influence me and I will influence them.
3. God helping me, I will always seek what is best for my friends.
Pray for the Tenbo tribe.
Study 4 | Give to God / Paul Writes | africaatts.org/go-teach