October 6, 2017
A Cord of Three Strands
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken ( Ecclesiastes 4:12, NIV).
Friend to Friend
The emotional demands on women are immense. One of the ways God replenishes us emotionally is through friendships. Many women are convinced that the risk of having close friends outweighs the rewards. I disagree.
There is no love without risk. Every friendship must contain the element of risk if it is to grow and mature, reaching its full potential. Friendships make us stronger. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says that a cord of three strands is not quickly broken. If you add a strand to a single cord, you double its strength. But if you add a third strand to the cord, it becomes ten times stronger.
Ruth was willing to risk her very future for the sake of her friendship with her mother-in-law, Naomi.
John 15:13 says it well: Greater love has no one than this; that one lay down his life for his friends. When we choose to lay down our life, we automatically take a chance on being hurt, rejected, betrayed, or misunderstood.
Anyone who knows me also knows that any living foliage is doomed to die a premature death if left in my care for any length of time. I have even been known to kill a plant without touching it. In fact, the only hope any plant of mine has to live past its purchase date is for me to diligently ignore its existence. I am certain you can understand why I am in awe of anyone who gardens and is actually capable of growing green things.
I once had a neighbor who was known for her green thumb. In fact, everyone in our small Mississippi town knew that the most beautiful roses were found in Joyce’s back yard. It was in that same yard where I learned an important lesson about friendship.
Every afternoon after their naps, I took our two children outside to play in our fenced-in back yard. While Jered and Danna enjoyed the fresh air, neighborhood friends, and their swing set, I enjoyed visiting with Joyce. Most of our conversations took place over the vine-covered fence and her dazzling Rose garden.
I loved to watch Joyce plant, prune, water, feed, talk and even sing to her “Rose Babies.” She always wore a long-sleeved shirt covered by a canvas apron and a pair of thick gloves to protect her arms and hands from thorns. It wasn’t enough. Joyce’s hands and arms were always scratched from her work in the rose garden. She didn’t seem to mind.
One afternoon, our conversation abruptly halted when she yanked her hand into the air and yelled, “Ouch!” Blood trickled down her arm from the puncture wound of a thorn. Seriously? When I asked her why she insisted on growing roses instead of some safer and less prickly foliage, her answer was profound. “The beauty of the roses is worth the occasional wound they inflict,” she replied. Joyce had learned to handle the roses with respect and in such a way that her wounds were few. Friendships are much the same.
Yes, friends will hurt you. Friends will wound you. We would be wise to don thick emotional gloves when it comes to handling friendships. It is a fatal mistake to assign the responsibility for our happiness to friends. Depending on a friend to make us happy sets that friend up for failure in the relationship and positions that friendship for inevitable destruction.
I have a friend who simply cannot keep a secret. She tries – she really does! But she just cannot do it. She would do anything in the world for me - except keep her mouth closed. Because I love her and don’t want to write her off as a friend, I have simply chosen to be cautious about what I share with her. That is the cost of having a friendship with her. And when I think about how she prays for me and constantly encourages me, it really isn’t much to pay.
The words of 1 Peter 4:8 say it well, “Love covers a multitude of sins.” In this verse, “cover” literally means to “hide or overlook” the faults. Friendship knows the weaknesses are there, but chooses to love anyway. Every friendship has a price tag of some kind attached. We just need to get to the place where love covers the cost.
Father, I want to thank You for being the ultimate Friend. You have never let me down or turned away from me – even when I have turned away from You. Please help me be the kind of friend You want me to be so that Your love can flow through me in my relationships.
In Jesus’ Name,
Now It’s Your Turn
· What is the greatest hindrance to friendship in your life?
- What has been the greatest reward of friendship in your life?
- Are you willing to take the risk of cultivating intimate friendships and of being a true friend? Explain.
- Make a list of your closest friends and then picture life without them. What would that picture look like?
- Make a specific plan this week to invest time in the life of a friend.
More from the Girlfriends
Relationships are very important to God. In fact, He spent most of His time on earth deepening relationships with a few - not the crowds. God created us to need each other and yet, true friendship seems so hard to find. Mary’s CD, I Need a Friend, is based on the beautiful portrait of friendship found in the lives of Ruth and Naomi and explores ten powerful keys that will help you be a true friend and find true friendship. Check it out … and be sure to connect with Mary on Facebook or through email.
Click here to learn more about hosting a Girlfriends in God conference in your area or having one of the GiGs speak at your next women's event.
Originally published Friday, 06 October 2017.