Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.Ecclesiastes 4:9(NASB)
When life is lived without God, life is futile and meaningless. Human effort or intellect pursuits, pleasure seeking or a power grab, personal prestige or the accumulation of wealth is identified by Solomon as being utterly vain. When the Lord is eliminated from the human heart, then the circle of life and the inevitability of death expresses nothing but hopelessness. When God is excluded, then the enemy has full sway in a life.
It was Solomon who wrote the book of Ecclesiastes and although he was a king with wisdom, and his wealth outstripped every other mortal being, he was a man who lost his spiritual direction over time, because of the carnal choices he made - and consequently he lived a defeated life.
Although he started out well, Solomon dishonoured the Lord. He ignored God's word and went his own way, which brought him to the brink of despair, when he should have been enjoying a victorious and spiritually satisfying life.
Amidst a constant outpouring of lamentations in Ecclesiastes, where he complains.. "Life is meaningless. Everything is futile. Vanity of vanities, all is vanity. ." we discover a few chinks of hope and some sound advice. Solomon reminds us that our Creator God has made everything beautiful in its time and has set eternity in the human heart. He reminds us that there is a time and a season for everything in life and he recorded his important conclusion about the meaning of life, in chapter 12, where he declared, "the end of the whole matter is this - fear God and keep His commandments".
Chapter 4 deals mainly with the inequalities of life and Solomon bemoans the terrible acts of oppression, the shocking discrimination and the lust to control the minds of others, by certain individuals... that seemed to characterise the days of Solomon, and is so prevalent in today's society. And verse 9 speaks of the advantages of fellowship, partnerships, self-control and mutual encouragement between two people.. "two are better than one", he writes, "because they have a good return for their labour."
Our God is a relational God, and He has made us to be part of a family and members of society.. and we see in this verse a contrast between those whose lives are motivated by the futility of envy.. or isolated by selfish greed and inappropriate incentives, as opposed to the comfort, help, encouragement and reward, which is gained in trusted friendships or a reliable partner in time of need.
The benefits of mutual support lies in stark contrast to the previous verse, which points out that a selfish, miserly person is devoid of companionship and likely to become a bitter, isolated individual, who harbours a spirit of discouragement and discontent.. as opposed to being in fellowship with a companion, which is more profitable than being alone.
Although the benefits of intimacy with another person outweigh the disadvantages of isolation, this is a truth that is particularly pertinent in Christian circles, where we are called to live with one another in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. We are the Body of Christ and although there are many members, we are one body... each with his or her unique part to play and all are called to consider others before ourselves.
God uses members of Christ's body to compliment the gifts and graces of other brothers and sisters and to offer encouragement and support. When Christ sent his disciples out to minister to the lost sheep of the house of Israel they were sent two by two - "for two are better than one because they have a good return for their labour... and the two men on the road to Emmaus is another reminder that during times of discouragement and pain, God always provides the support we need.
As Christians we are all individuals, with our own God-given tasks and responsibilities, but we are one body that is called to live and work in partnership with one another, which is much more productive and profitable than toiling alone.
Shared successes and shared sorrows not only gives greater encouragement and is edifying, it is how we are called to live in this world by our heavenly Father. May we work together for the furtherance of the gospel and work the works of God, in the unity of the Spirit, while it is still day.
Heavenly Father, thank You for this simple truth that impacts our lives that two are better than one.. and for the privilege we have, as the body of Christ, to support and encourage one another in the work that You have given us to do. Give me grace and wisdom to hold the things of this world lightly and to consider the needs of others before my own. Unite Your people together in the bond of peace and may we be a living testimony to the goodness and grace of God and work together for the furtherance of the gospel - this I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.