3 strands: You, Me and God
You are better off to have a friend than to be all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn. If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble. If you sleep alone, you won't have anyone to keep you warm on a cold night. Someone might be able to beat up one of you, but not both of you. As the saying goes, "A rope made from three strands of cord is hard to break." (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, CEV)
"You deserve it, Mo!" Tiger said with a big smile. You see, when Tiger Woods slipped the Green Jacket on the shoulders of his good friend Mark O'Meara, they celebrated more than just a Masters victory. Yes, Mark O'Meara had finally accomplished something he had longed to do. Yes, he had made lots of money winning this prestigious golf tournament. But this was sweet because it was a moment of victory shared by two friends, good friends. Of all the things to admire and desire in the lives of these two men, their friendship one of the most important.
Friends ARE important! While the book of Ecclesiastes often seems a hard journey through reality, occasionally Qoheleth the Son of David (that's his name for himself in Hebrew-Eccles. 1:1) will allow us to pause and admire something of beauty and significance that makes life precious in a world saddled with vanity and purposelessness. This is one of those moments. Friends are important for at least four reasons, Qoheleth reminds us:
1. Two get more done and have more fun than just one when they are working.
2. A friend can help support and pick us up when we're down.
3. A friend can help warm those cold lonely nights with companionship.
4. With a friend, we can protect ourselves from our enemies. But the problem in our world is that so many people need friends and don't have them. It's not like you can go down to the friend shop and pick one up. A good friend is hard to find. So how can I find a good friend? Look at our list a little more closely. If you turn each of these descriptions into an action, then suddenly you have a plan for having friends:
1. Help others get their work done to help them find a sense of joy and accomplishment.
2. Pick up others when their down and broken and have "fallen but can't get up."
3. Call or visit someone who is on a cold lonely journey through life to let them know they are not alone.
4. Help someone under attack by standing with them against the ridicule, gossip, or unfair criticism they are facing.
You see, the way you have a friend is to be a friend. That principle is rooted in the example of our Father. "In this is love. Not that we loved God, but that he first loved us and gave his Son..." (1 John 4:10) We go first at being a friend. If we do this unselfishly, we are going to be blessed with friends.
But there is one final secret hidden in Qoheleth's words. It has to do with the third strand. If we will allow the Lord to be that third strand, and we build our friendships on him, we will have a friendship that is not only strong, but it will last forever.