Scripture

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Two are better than one,

    because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Reflection

“Misery loves company.” It’s an old saying with a lot of truth. I know that when I am down, frustrated, or worked up about something, I want others to commiserate with me. It is human nature. I’m not sure why, because it is counter-productive to have others agree with your misery. It usually takes you farther down the path of anger, frustration or sadness. Whereas, if you have someone in your corner who will shoot it straight or play devil’s advocate to your position, it can provide clarity, new perspective, and pull you out of a miserable state. That is, if you are open to another perspective. This is where we go wrong, we just want someone to agree with us, even if it makes it worse. We so desperately want to be “right” about our feelings that we don't even want to hear of another perspective. So we surround ourselves with people who will agree with us, even when we are in the wrong.

The writer of Ecclesiastes teaches us the wisdom of doing life together. Still, we must choose who we keep close and who we keep at a distance. The sort of person who “helps the other up” when they fall down is the kind of person to keep close. This is sometimes done by offering a different perspective or through disagreement. Your closest friends, the ones you turn to in times of difficulty should not necessarily be people who agree with you all the time. I have found that surrounding me with people who love God and love me is qualification number one. Beyond that, we can disagree all day long, because if we both truly love God and each other, we can lift each other up and hold each other to a higher standard. If I look for someone like me or someone who agrees with me, I may not find help on any level, only someone who keeps me company in my misery. And I don't know about you, but I don't really want to spend any time in misery, with or without company!

I seek to surround myself with people who expect and bring out the best in me. I want friends who see things differently, so they can point out my “blind spots.” Above all, I want friends who love God deeply and love me as well. Because I know they want the best for me and from me, even if it hurts along the way.

Do you need to adjust your closest associations? Are you surrounding yourself with people who will agree with you or people who expect and want the best for you?

Prayer

God, you continually call me to live a sacrificial life, and yet I fall short. Help me to see others the way you see them. Help me to be a person who serves others with all that I am and all that I have. You gave so much for me, Lord. Thank you. Guide me to live a life that honors your gift. In Jesus’ name, Amen.