by Jeff Farnham
Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.”
Ecclesiastes 4:12, “…and a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
God created man to be both spiritual and social. In the social arena, relationships are under great strain. Human relationships of every type–husband-wife, parent-child, pastor-church member, sibling-sibling, friend-friend, employer-employee, neighbor-neighbor–have encountered in recent times some of the greatest invasions and destructions in human history.
Without delving into all of the reasons for the downfall of social structure, let this message give three concepts that will help us all:
Love, the flexible cord.
Fundamental to all earthly relationships is the quality known as love. Obviously, love takes on many forms and has many degrees. The type and the extent of love between a husband and wife is quite different from that existing between two siblings or between two friends. All of those contrasts aside, love is present to some degree.
Trust, the fragile cord.
Also at the root of all earthly relationships is the quality of trust. To some extent, a relationship must have trust; that is, the knowledge that one person in the relationship will not exploit or endanger the other. This cord is fragile because only one, or perhaps only a few, situations of exploitation or endangerment have the potential to shatter the trust into pieces that may not ever be glued back together. Even if the trust can be repaired, the value is permanently reduced.
Royal Worcester china is some of the finest porcelain in the world. A flawless piece of this exquisite china from the turn of the last century could command thousands at auction at Sotheby’s. However, if that flawless piece were to be broken and reglued, the piece might be considered “back-together,” but its value would be reduced to one hundred dollars.
Honor, the indispensable cord.
Scripture speaks of giving honor to them to whom honor is due. That word is the same as the word precious in the writings of Peter in I Peter 1:7, “…the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold…” and in verse 19, “…the precious blood of Christ.” The idea conveyed is that people in a relationship should value each other rather than take each other for granted. Such value is proven by words of commendation, acts of appreciation, and lives of mutual devotion.
It is paramount that people in relationships with each other respect each other. Verbal affirmation and commendation are a beginning point; however, equally important are the demonstrations of respect through kindness and favor. Deepening a relationship requires deepening the evidences of respect.
By observation it is made clear that many husbands and wives still love each other; but, because they no longer trust and respect each other, they are estranged. That estrangement may result in tolerant cohabitation, separation, or divorce. Furthermore, other human relationships that endure loss of trust and respect may experience temporary, or even permanent, breakdown even though love still exists. Therefore, maintenance of relationships on earth involves remaining trustworthy and continuing to show respect. A focus on love that overlooks trust and respect will often result in tragedy. A focus on trust and respect, however, will seldom end in the demise of love.