NOT GOOD TO BE ALONE
Lord, thank You for surrounding me with people who love me.
Read ECCLESIASTES 4:1–12
Oppression, Toil, Friendlessness
4 Again I looked and saw all the oppression that was taking place under the sun:
I saw the tears of the oppressed—
and they have no comforter;
power was on the side of their oppressors—
and they have no comforter.
2 And I declared that the dead,
who had already died,
are happier than the living,
who are still alive.
3 But better than both
is the one who has never been born,
who has not seen the evil
that is done under the sun.
4 And I saw that all toil and all achievement spring from one person’s envy of another. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
5 Fools fold their hands
and ruin themselves.
6 Better one handful with tranquillity
than two handfuls with toil
and chasing after the wind.
7 Again I saw something meaningless under the sun:
8 There was a man all alone;
he had neither son nor brother.
There was no end to his toil,
yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.
“For whom am I toiling,” he asked,
“and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?”
This too is meaningless—
a miserable business!
9 Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
10 If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
11 Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
12 Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
From institutions that deny justice (Eccles. 3:16), the Teacher turns to individuals who are victims of injustice. Helpless against the powers that be, their pain is intensiﬁed by the loneliness of their struggle, for “they have no comforter” (1)—no friends in high places to speak up for them and not even friends in lowly places to lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. Their helplessness in life spirals downward into a sense of hopelessness about life (2,3).
Yet, a different kind of alienation is experienced in the workplace (4–8). Work is not a curse following the fall, but a creation ordinance (Gen. 2:15). Work, however, like every other area of life, is affected by sin. The urge to promote and protect “number one” may promote a covetous or competitive spirit, which robs us of that God-ordained sense of fulﬁllment, stealing away our contentment and intensifying our frustration.
In any arena of life, “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen. 2:18). The triune God is relational: to be created in his image is to be created for community. The Teacher describes the blessings of companionship (9–12): synergy, which makes good business and economic sense; support, to sustain and comfort in times of adversity; and strength, to unite against the various adversaries in life. At the heart of sin lies a posture of independence from God. While requiring humble dependence on himself, God also mandates interdependence among his people (cf. Gal. 6:2). Jesus sent out his disciples in pairs (cf. Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1), and the early church also adopted this practice (cf. Acts 13:2; 15:39,40; 19:22). The call to community and companionship are not just blessings to be enjoyed, but commandments to be obeyed.
Is God prompting you to befriend someone who feels left out, lonely, or alienated in your family circle, neighborhood, social circle, workplace, or church?
Lord, teach me to resist the temptation to rely only on myself for everything but to be open to asking for help from You and from others.