The third time isn’t always a charm.

Can we buy this tractor dad?

If there is one thing that parents learn from their children it is how to say no to constant requests for the same thing.  My kids are no different than I was when I was a kid.  In the world of a child, no means no only after it is said at least a half-dozen times.  With my boys it is generally a constant desire for more dessert or some other food. It is as if they are born with an ingrown desire to test out the “third time is a charm” maxim.  Somewhere deep down they believe that if they ask enough times we will wear down or the answer will somehow miraculously change. Generally it doesn’t change and generally the third time actually makes things worse.

The third time isn’t generally a charm.  The third time often just reaps the same result, or even a worse result.  In sports like baseball, when someone gets the third strike at the ball they are out.  This same concept comes into play in some states with regard to laws.  If you break the law three times you will incur a steeper penalty.  If I touch an electric fence two times and each time I get shocked, why would I think I would not get shocked on the third time?  Yet, so many people live like this.

We live in a world where truth is not upheld or appreciated.  Truth becomes something that is in the eye of each individual.  The thought is that if you don’t like something you can just wait a little while and it will change.  I remember my oldest son telling me one time he didn’t like that the red light means stop and green means go.  He told me that he wanted red to mean go. Of course, that cannot happen. But, in a world of relativism, we tell people to believe whatever they want.  Yet at some level we all agree that there needs to be some standard and no wavering in it.

God does not change and His Word endures.  This means that no matter how many times someone reads the Bible or how many times the culture will change on any issue, the truth is still the truth.  God’s answer is always the same answer.   The winds of the culture blow and people like certain things better than other things.  Does that make them right?  If I ask God two times and I get the same answer, do I really think the third time with be the supposed charm? It can’t be!  God’s Word is truth and that means that it is good right now.  It is, in this sense, a charm the first time.

There is a story in 2 Kings 1 about Ahaziah, the king of Samaria, who had fallen and injured himself severely.  He then sends messengers to consult a false god, Baal, to see if he will recover.  God sends Elijah to intercept these messengers and tell the king that he will die as a result of his seeking information from false gods.  Of course, Ahaziah does not appreciate the news and sends two other messengers, a total of three, to ask again. Yet, each time the answer was the same.  God has pronounced His judgement and His mind would not change.

“So he died, according to the word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken.” 1 Kings 1:17

God’s Word is always true and we do well to listen to it.  I know it is hard to live in truth, but truth is always true the first time.  God’s Word blesses and equips, but only if we take the time to read and apply in the first place.



  1. I’m in the process of teaching the gks to ask me once and give me a moment to think. If they keep going the answer is automatically no, even if I wanted to say yes. They can ask me again later, but they can’t beg and cajole and expect a good result. I find my life is much better with this principle in place. We’re often the same way with God. We ask, but don’t want to wait on His answer or His timing. We think many words will reach Him and make Him give us our way. While He does tell us to be persistent (the neighbor who recieved through his persistence) but that is not the same thing as begging. Or is it? lol. Good post, Derek

    1. I like that principle. My kids have learned this one also. If I say no, I mean no. They will try, but no is still the answer. If God’s Word tells us no, does that ever change? No. Yet, ask a number of churches in this country and you will hear that God’s Word changes with the culture. Unbelievable! The answer is still the same today.

  2. I’ve heard stories of people repeatedly asking for something from God and finally He giving in so they can be “taught a lesson”. It always ends with “I should have listened to what He said in the first place.”

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