Strength in Numbers
Is there strength in numbers? Most of the time, yes.

I remember illustrating this principle before a group of Christians on one occasion. I held up an audio cassette and affirmed that I could restrain any of them with it. Most seemed to doubt my claim. I then proceeded to show the weakness of an individual strand of the audio cassette. It snapped easily in my hand. As a single strand, it was weak and unable to restrain anyone. I then continued by tying a strong, young man to a chair by unwinding the entire cassette around his arms and torso numerous times. By the time the cassette was completely unwound, the young man wasn't going anywhere! Had there been only a few strands to overcome, he could have easily escaped. However, the combined power of wrapping him up more than one hundred times was more than he could overcome. He could not break free. There is strength in numbers.

Consider Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 on this theme - "Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; but how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken."

This passage teaches that good companionship will help reduce the difficulties in life. Solomon mentioned several benefits of such. Primarily, work is more productive and there is mutual care, warmth, and safety. Indeed, there is strength in numbers physically!

Although the verses we read from Ecclesiastes seem to focus on physical matters, the principle is certainly valid in the spiritual realm also. There are many spiritual difficulties that Christians will encounter in life. When we have good, faithful brethren to lean upon, the difficult times are not as bad. When we do fall, our spiritual family is there to help us up. There is strength in numbers spiritually!

But, what about habits? There are habits that everyone has in both the physical and spiritual domains. It is true that both good and bad habits can be developed or broken via repetition (i.e., strength in numbers).

For example, a good physical habit is brushing one's teeth. If one brushes his teeth every night for a year before going to bed, he has definitely internalized this practice as a habit. The more he repeats the activity, the less likely he is to forget about it or neglect it in the future. In this positive sense, there is strength in numbers (or repetition).

However, an example of a bad spiritual habit would be failing to thank God for the daily necessities He graciously provides. The longer one goes without thanking the Lord, the easier it is to continue neglecting to do such. In this negative sense, there is strength in numbers (or repetition).

Friends, you need to understand that every time you do something, you're making it more likely that you will do it again. For instance, if you tell a lie today, it will be easier to tell another lie tomorrow. In contrast, if you study the Bible today, it will be easier to study again tomorrow. This is how habits are established or broken--through repetition (i.e., strength in numbers).

We must carefully guard our speech and actions. If we don't, we will find ourselves enslaved to sin or bad habits. Whether an activity is good or bad, the more we repeat something in life, the harder it is to break the cycle--the stronger the cords become that bind us. It is easy to break free from improper choices at the beginning. But, we must do so before we repeat them and allow them to tightly bind us (like the audio cassette illustration). Of course, let it be understood that with God's help, all things are possible (Phil. 4:13). Even if you are currently bound by a bad habit or sin in your life, you can break free--but first you have to want to. If you don't really desire to break free, then you never will! However, if the desire is present, you can break free with the help of the Lord, godly friends, and perseverance. Undoubtedly, there is strength in numbers. But, the way you live life will determine whether this principle helps or harms you.