9Two people can accomplish more than twice as much as one; they get a better return for their labor. 10If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But people who are alone when they fall are in real trouble. 11And on a cold night, two under the same blanket can gain warmth from each other. But how can one be warm alone? 12A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)

As I read this passage last week, my first reaction was to praise God for the perfect life partner He’s given me. My husband is God’s gift to me, given to demonstrate unconditional love.

As I read verse 12, however, I saw a much broader application. Verse 12 tells me a couple of things. First, it tells me that being alone is a dangerous place. The enemy will attack those who allow themselves to live a life without relationships. There are those who take pride in being a loner. Let me encourage you if you are one of those people to resist the label and the urge. Loners are people who are at risk.

Verse 12 tells us that the person standing alone can be attacked and defeated. The enemy will attack and has the ability to defeat the person standing alone. Knowing this, we ought to take care NOT to be alone. Even when that’s what it feels like we want, we need to ensure that there is at least one person around us to help fight our battles.

Conversely, when we see others who are alone, we can become that battle partner sometimes. This doesn’t mean we’re always in battle. It can also be the fun things we’re doing that makes the person not alone – those things are part of the battle. We’ve been having a lot of conversations about community in our house lately. Community, especially Christian community, offers protection against all sorts of trials the enemy will throw at us, and as Phil and I see the end times approaching we believe that Christian community will be more important than ever. But I digress.

This passage provides a great picture of a friend – one who stands back to back with the person to fight off their enemies; one who helps us out of a pit when we’ve fallen in it. A friend is not one who tears us down. If there is someone in your life who is tearing you down, they are not your friend. If you are tearing down someone in your life, you are not being their friend. We are called to be friends, encouragers, and bearers of one another’s burdens.

So I see the passage cautioning us to be purposeful and careful in developing relationships so that we have at least one friend who will always have our back. That often means reaching out when I want to draw back. It also cautions us to be that friend to someone else who needs it. Again, that often means reaching out when I want to draw back because the person who needs a friend may be someone who is difficult to friend. Perhaps, if the enemy has been attacking that person for a long time he has won the battle for his or her joy. Such a person needs someone to pull them out of the pit, to warm their soul and to have their back.

That kind of relationship can be difficult and the battle we help to fight can be a hard one. But then we have the last part of the verse: “a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” It is that third strand, Christ in the midst of the relationship, that ensures our victory. He provides the strength – emotionally, physically and spiritually – to stand when we would rather rest. He provides the love when we would rather not love. He provides the wisdom when there seems to be no way to victory. He provides rest and nourishment in the midst of the battle.

As mom always said, “two heads are better than one.” Be purposeful in developing relationships in 2012. And be sure it’s not just the two of you in the relationship – seek out friendships with fellow believers and make Christ the center of your fellowship. For your protection and theirs…and for the glory of God.

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