It’s easy to break a slender thread. Two pieces of string will be stronger, but if you braid three strands together, you can form a rope that is difficult to break. Ecclesiastes 4:12 says, “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” Over the years, this verse of Scripture has found its way into wedding ceremonies, for wise couples recognize it takes more than a bride and groom to make a marriage successful. The Lord himself is the third strand who fortifies the bond between the husband and wife.
Marriage, however, isn’t the only relationship where this principle applies.
Friends need the Lord to be the third strand. David and Jonathan had a lot in common as warriors in Israel’s army, but they were more than casual pals. They had “sworn friendship with each other in the name of the Lord” (1 Samuel 20:42). God’s presence and power took their friendship to a new level of transparency and spiritual depth.
Parentsneed the Lord to be the third strand between them and their children. Family life has never been easy, and moms and dads especially need God’s help in today’s tough cultural environment. Psalm 127:1 reminds us, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.” Parenting requires godly wisdom and patience. What parents wouldn’t benefit from the heavenly Father’s assistance?
Teachersand students need the Lord as their third strand. In a public school classroom, a college lecture hall, a church building, or any other educational setting, it’s a serious responsibility to shape the minds of children and adults. James cautions about the educator’s influence when he says, “Not many of you should be teachers . . . because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly” (James 3:1). No teacher should begin a new semester or speak before a group of students without first praying for God’s guidance and strength.
Business leaders and their employees benefit when the Lord is their third strand. In a day when slavery was common, the apostle Paul urged, “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven” (Colossians 4:1). The principle behind those words should be taken seriously by today’s managers and directors who have workers reporting to them. The best companies not only produce a handsome profit; they also operate according to values of honesty, fairness, and respect. I heard about a leader who would occasionally retreat inside his office so he could spend a few minutes in prayer, and he would post a sign on the office door that said, “In consultation with the Boss.”
Church leaders and their congregations need the Lord to be their third strand. That seems obvious, but in the daily grind, busy ministry leaders sometimes forget to “keep the main thing the main thing.” The church’s elders and staff members need to keep their own relationship with God vibrant and growing. It’s hard to feed others when your own soul is starving. You can’t lead someone else to a place where you haven’t gone.
In all kinds of relationships, we need more wisdom and strength than our own energy can generate. We need God’s help to hold things together. Aren’t you glad the Lord is willing to be the third strand?
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.