Again I saw something meaningless under the sun: 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!
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. Ecclesiastes 4:7-10.
Living alone by having it thrust on us through circumstances versus choosing to be so are two different things. Some choose it out of a desire for spiritual focus, some have problems being in close contact with other people, and others just because they don’t want to be bothered by anyone interfering with their routine. . To one degree or another, these choices are all based on narcissistic attitudes, if we take that word to mean what makes me feel good as opposed to being in community. Others chose community in one form or another but ended up alone through the choices of someone else
The man in Solomon’s illustration works hard to gain wealth for himself thinking that he’ll be satisfied at the end of the day. When he accomplishes his dream he’s left feeling empty because there’s no one to share it with and he’s alone. Our resident wise man claims this is a case of chasing after the wind and totally void of anything meaningful.
For the simple reason that all of us need relationships in one form or another.
We were built, designed and set up for community. The first thing God did was create a community of two. It wasn’t an accident of evolution or a case of artistic flair but a programmed characteristic which defines the human psyche. Those who think they can survive without community should just see the roster of counseling appointments treating the social networking woes of thousands of people. It’s not hard to see how many of us get closed down because community hurts more often than it heals, but that further emphasizes our need for Jesus, in my estimation.
The teachings of Christ were not principally meant for political outcomes or religious piety but to restore relationships. The song the angels sang at His birth wasn’t concerned about the latest doctrinal stance or treasure trove of things God required, instead their focus was, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good will to men…” Good will is all about relationship building, which has something to do with the boundaries of love, though very little to do with the minutiae of human laws. Because we can’t seem to conform to love, we make laws to regulate human behavior—a reason why the laws of most countries are becoming more and more complicated.
Fallen human nature angles for the loopholes on such a regular basis that we begin to think laws and punishment are the only way to curb it. We’re dead wrong, of course, yet humanity as a whole steadfastly doesn’t want God completely in charge; tending instead to invest in anything but Him. It’s a failed experiment, this endeavor to find self-actualization and godlike status without the Creator to guide us and temper our pride. The most anyone can be like God is by imitation; other than that we have no option but entropy and death.
The first time I read this passage it validated marriage for me, since that’s where my focus was at the time. As I’ve grown in my walk with God it now validates every aspect of human relationships. We need family, friends and social circles to thrive. As I said before, no business can succeed without a community to support them. No painter, musician or actor can continue publishing their art, songs or stories if no one sees or listens to them. So it validates our relationships in all their glory no matter what the ties that bind.
The world is violent place, pretending it’s not causes no end of heartache and trouble. What’s the quote, “Evil men succeed when good men do nothing” or something to that effect. We miss the point when we figure love should conquer all. It does, but sometimes we have to use the stick of love instead of the helping hand. There are people out there who are not damaged, abused or neglected but selfish to the core and uncaring about who they hurt as long as they get theirs. Denying these people exist will only hurt all the more when they run us over. Every macro culture and micro culture will contain a selection all types of people. Hopefully, there are more of the type who construct and sustain than those who destroy or drain it.
My point being, no matter how we slice it, we still need to continue in community with one another. All the wealth in the world and toys it brings will not replace solid loving relationships. The man or woman who works hard and is successful will feel more so when there’s someone else to share it with and appreciate his or her efforts. Loneliness sucks, folks. In contrast, however, the person who cannot seem to get it off the ground no matter how hard they work will also feel better about life when they share it with someone who cares for them and for whom they care.
Tags: acceptance, being like God, being like Jesus, belonging, community, companionship, Ecclesiastes, following Jesus, God's purpose, God's will, Love, relationships, two are better than one, unity in diversity, wisdom