Summary: In Ecc. 4:9-12 Solomon talks about the benefits of relationships. He gives reasons why two are better than one. No matter what kind of relationship you have: church, family, friends or romantic, there’s great value where two or more are gathered.
STREGNTH IN NUMBERS
INTRODUCTION: A few weeks ago I did a sermon called Helping Hands which highlighted the importance of the church working together. In Ecc. 4 Solomon talks about the benefits of relationships. So, no matter what kind of relationship you have, whether it’s a church community, family or friends there’s great value where two or more are gathered.
Ecc. 4:9-12, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”
Solomon lists the advantages of community and working together. The Talmud says, "A man without a companion is like a left hand without the right.” Can a person function without two hands? Yes, but it’s a lot more difficult. In these verses I see both a literal and a spiritual application. In these verses we answer the question-how is two better than one?
1) More gets accomplished (9).
Solomon is highlighting that when two people work together they accomplish more than if there was only one. However, although it’s true that many hands make light work, you also have to consider the adage-too many cooks spoil the stew. The principle there is that you can’t have everyone wanting to be in control and have their way; it won’t work. Two are better than one when they work together; when they’re in harmony. When they do, they will get a good return for their work; they will accomplish a lot.
In a spiritual sense you think of the benefit of two people working together to spread the gospel. When Jesus sent out his disciples he sent them out in teams of two. You see this dynamic later as well-you had Paul and Barnabas or Paul and Silas. African proverb: “If you want to travel fast, travel alone. If you want to travel far, go together.”
One of the benefits of going out in pairs is for training purposes. If one is more seasoned then the other one the newer Christian sees how to correctly approach a person and they will see what kinds of questions will be asked by both the Christian and the non-Christian.
And then you have the “two heads are better than one” reality. When you talk or counsel or study with people and there are two or more people there more can get accomplished because you have different perspectives and insights into a situation. One person might think of a bible verse that applies that you weren’t thinking of and in all this the person being talked to comes away from the meeting more blessed.
When you look at the dynamic a small group bible study you have different people giving their answers to questions or their thoughts on a certain passage of scripture and with that you get to see all the different ways one can be impacted by God and his word and you understand the value in it and you walk away with more knowledge and insight than you would have if you were studying it on your own.
2) You receive help and support (10a).
Here Solomon is highlighting the benefit of having a friend or companion as opposed to being alone. When we’re facing a difficult situation we need each other for support and advice. When we’ve had a bad day it’s nice to have someone to vent to.
Calvin and Hobbs cartoon: Calvin got dressed in his special clothes for school. When he got to school he sat down on some bubble gum. At recess he got beat up by a bully. He failed his math test and on the way home he got rained on. At bedtime he says, “You know, Hobbes, some days even my lucky rocket ship underpants don’t help.” Your lucky underwear might not be able to help you, but a trusted companion or friend can.
When we’re down we need to be cheered up. When we’re persecuted we need to know there’s someone there to share the burden with us. Gal. 6:2, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Two are better than one because a shared burden becomes a lifted one. While breaking baseball’s "color barrier," Jackie Robinson faced jeering crowds in every stadium. While playing one day in his home stadium in Brooklyn, he committed an error. His own fans began to ridicule him. He stood at second base, humiliated, while the fans jeered. Then, shortstop "Pee Wee" Reese came over and stood next to him. He put his arm around Jackie and faced the crowd. The fans grew quiet. Robinson later said that arm around his shoulder saved his career.