Key Verse: “Pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Ecclesiastes 4:10 NIV)
7-8 I turned my head and saw yet another wisp of smoke on its way to nothingness: a solitary person, completely alone—no children, no family, no friends—yet working obsessively late into the night, compulsively greedy for more and more, never bothering to ask, “Why am I working like a dog, never having any fun? And who cares?” More smoke. A bad business.
Reflection: (Ecclesiastes 4:7-8)
Sadly, many people continue to be workaholics even when there is no progeny to leave their wealth to.
Material prosperity coupled with the “advantages” of technology is a lethal drug that keeps many of us from reflecting on the important matters of life.
One commentator noted the wasted life of one well-known fool: “Billionaire Howard Hughes ended his days a chronic recluse, haunted by his fears of disease – a living death testimony to the impotence (or was it danger?) of material prosperity in the face of profound spiritual darkness.
Isolation is often the concomitant of worldy success.”
As we get older, it becomes more difficult to avoid thinking about the big issues of life. Sadly, much damage has already taken place. In Florida you see retired CEO’s having plenty of money yet complain about the aging process and being estranged from family members.
President Eisenhower was once asked what he thought were the cause and cure inflation. “That’s easy,” he replied. “The cause is the greed of the American people. The cure is to curb the greed of Americans.”
Indeed, but greed is fueled by strong passions that do not go away easily. Among other things, we must give up the illusion that we can “have it all.”
Key Verse 9-10
It’s better to have a partner than go it alone.
Share the work, share the wealth.
And if one falls down, the other helps,
But if there’s no one to help, tough!
11 Two in a bed warm each other.
Alone, you shiver all night.
12 By yourself you’re unprotected.
With a friend you can face the worst.
Can you round up a third?
A three-stranded rope isn’t easily snapped.
Reflection: (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
Cooperating with others has advantages.
Life is designed for companionship, not isolation, for intimacy, not loneliness.
Some people prefer isolation, thinking they cannot trust anyone.
We are not here on earth to serve ourselves, but to serve God and others.
Don’t isolate yourself and try to go it alone.
Seek companions, be a team member.
Reflection: (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12)
The stereotype of the “friendless American male” tends to make us think that the problem is unique to men. But supercompetitive, driven people who don’t have time for meaningful relationships are found among both genders.
Solomon had learned some significant lessons about the poverty of a life that has only material wealth.
Friendships are truly indispensable to a rich life.
The Scriptures warn us about hose who separate themselves from others (Proverbs 18:1; Hebrews 10:24-25; 1 Peter 5:8-9).
First Peter 5:8-9 teaches that separating from other believers makes one vulnerable to spiritual attack.
Since all of us can be deceived (Psalms 19:12; Jeremiah 17:9; 1 Corinthians 4:1-5), we desperately need others to keep us accountable (Hebrews 3:13).
Jesus sent His disciples out in twos (Luke 10:1). Anyone who has done much evangelism understands the wisdom in this. Even the apostle Paul, for all his courage and giftedness, needed people to cheer him up on various occasions (2 Corinthians 7:6; 2 Corinthians 1:8-11).
Synergy is a popular word that suggests among other things that 1 + 1 = 3.
The effect of two people working in harmony together can be much greater than those two laboring on their own (Ecclesiastes 4:9).
Times of pain and struggle come upon all of us and it is truly tragic when there is no support.
As a Chaplain and minister of Gospel, I have observed people who have enjoyed much support from others during times of tragedy, and I have seen individuals who have had little or no support.
For those in the latter category, some honest inventory is needed.
Is there a lack of support from others because one is not engaged in the lives of others?
The old adage applies, “I went out to look for a friend and they were nowhere. I went out to be a friend and they were everywhere.”
A popular term in churches is the word “community.” It’s not surprising, considering all the individualism and competitive nature of today’s society.
Unfortunately true community is not what people in many churches really want. What they really desire is either people meeting their needs on their terms or what some prominent sociologist have labeled “lifestyle enclaves”.
Lifestyle enclaves are artificial communities. They are groups of people with the same socioeconomic background who exist solely to satisfy their individual and collective desires.
This is not the Biblical meaning of community!
Some polls show that large numbers of people believe marriage, friends, and family contribute most to their happiness. This can be as high as four times more the happiness than those who credit individual pursuits such as career or hobbies.
It would be wise for all of us to order our schedules accordingly.
It is common for interpreters to see an illusion to travel imagery in these verses.
In a world marked bu violence and cruelty, the support of others can be a great benefit. (2 Samuel 10:11)