In this sermon, Pastor Dave Capoccia begins examining Ecclesiastes 4:1-16 and Solomon’s teaching on companionship. Solomon presents five crucial lessons on companionship so that you will realize that this difficult and vaporous life is lived better together. In part one, Pastor Dave explains the first three more negative lessons on companionship in Ecclesiastes 4:1-8:
1. The Comfort-less Life is Miserable (vv. 1-3)
2. The Jealous Life is Miserable (vv. 4-6)
3. The Miserly Life is Miserable (vv. 7-8)
Well for someone who loves learning about history, one of the things I’m drawn to thinking about are what is called counterfactuals, which is how a certain historical situation would be played out differently if people made different choices. Now because God is sovereign and is ultimately working out all sins perfectly and precisely for His Glory, there is a certain sense that history had to happen the way it did and couldn’t happen any other way. Even Samuel could say of King Saul in 1 Samuel 13:13 that if Saul had only been obedient, it says:
Yahweh would have established His Kingdom over Israel forever.
Even the Bible is able to entertain counterfactuals and that is what I’d like us to do this morning. Here are two counterfactuals related to people in the Bible. The first is this: what if Cain after having his sacrifice rejected by God decided not to kill his brother Abel in jealousy? How might have Cain’s life played out differently?
Well for one, Cain wouldn’t have experienced the terrible notoriety and judgment that came with his evil act. He wouldn’t have received the mark from the curse and it wouldn’t have driven him out from his family. He could have continued to live with his brother and learn from Abel what it meant to truly know God and walk before Him in faith and worship.
Really Cain could have seen fulfilled what God Himself held out to Cain in promise in Genesis 4:7 where it says:
If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.
If Cain had regarded his brother as a friend but not an enemy, he could have been greatly blessed instead of greatly cursed. Now consider a second and opposite counterfactual with me. What if David had tried to follow God alone? He did not seek out, accept, or listen to companions. How might have life turned out differently for David?
Considering how instrumental other people were in David’s life, without them we would have seen how quickly he would have been ruined. When Saul sought David’s life, there would have been no Jonathan to warn, encourage, or comfort David about the promises of God.
When David needed to make important decisions, he wouldn’t have had many of his key counselors to show him wisdom and protect him from folly. These counselors were Abigail, Joab, and Hushai. When David found himself in deep sin, there would have been no Nathan to confront David to draw him back to repentance and fellowship with God. We can imagine that without his companions, David could have easily despaired, died, and departed from the Lord.
Thus by making time for others, David is actually finding great blessing for himself. I bring up these two hypothetical situations for you this morning because we are also faced with the fundamental question of how we are going to regard other people in our lives. You don’t have to live very long that people, even Christians, are imperfect sinners. You also find out that seeking out, cultivating, and restoring relationships takes a fair amount of hard work and humility.
Therefore we are going to be tempted in life, especially when someone sins against us, to say or think this: “You know what, I don’t need this or you. I’m better off alone.” Christians can even say this about the church that they’re judgmental and hypocrites and that they can follow Jesus at home with their Bibles and nature. But God in His Scripture confronts such isolation-justifying and people-avoidant thinking. You know what He calls it? Foolishness.
Instead as we will see today in our next section of Ecclesiastes that for those who truly want to walk wisely in this world, life is lived better together, which is also the title of the sermon today. Let’s turn to Ecclesiastes 4 where we will find our text. This great Old Testament author, King Solomon, continues to teach us how to live wisely in a frustrating and vaporous world.
Last time if you remember, we were in Ecclesiastes 3:16-22 where Solomon was teaching us how to respond to life’s unresolvable justices, ones that you can’t do anything about. Rather than despairing over the situation or seeking vainly to achieve something that can’t be achieved, the wise actually respond by first resting in God’s justice and His timing, and secondly by remembering their humble position before God, and thirdly by still rejoicing in the good that they receive from God even amid difficultly.
As we approach Ecclesiastes 4, Solomon transitions from talking about injustice to a new topic: companionship. Let’s see Solomon’s teaching, which is the Spirit of God speaking to us, in Ecclesiastes 4:1-16:
Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun. And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed and that they had no one to comfort them; and on the side of their oppressors was power, but they had no one to comfort them. So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun. I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind. Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor. Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches and he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?” This too is vanity and it is a grievous task. Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction. For he has come out of prison to become king, even though he was born poor in his kingdom. I have seen all the living under the sun throng to the side of the second lad who replaces him. There is no end to all the people, to all who were before them, and even the ones who will come later will not be happy with him, for this too is vanity and striving after wind.
Now hearing that may not immediately see how the verses of this chapter are related to one another, but what we have here is a series of reflections all on the same topic of companionship. Solomon considers our human relationships and what life is like when relationships are missing, neglected, or abandoned, and what life is like when relationships are present, nurtured, and embraced.
Like wisdom and work, companionship is not a means to ultimate gain in life. Nevertheless companionship, which Solomon teaches us, makes life better. The Lord speaks that message to you this morning. If you want to be wise, happy, and holy, then you cannot go through life alone. Either literally alone, or functionally alone.
To be more specific, in our text Solomon presents us with five crucial lessons on companionship so you will realize that this difficult, vaporous life is lived better together. These five lessons will form the outline of our text. We will cover the first 3, more negative sounding lessons today and next time we are back in Ecclesiastes we will over the last two, more positive sounding lessons.
The first lesson on companionship that you need to learn is in Ecclesiastes 4:1-3. It is that the comfort-less life is miserable. Look at the beginning of verse 1 which says:
Then I looked again at all the acts of oppression which were being done under the sun.
Notice here that Solomon is still talking about injustice but he is taking a slightly different angle. He refers to all of the acts of oppression. Solomon cannot literally know every act of oppression that has taken place on the earth but he still can know the kinds of oppression that happen. What exactly is oppression? It is the unjust or cruel exercise of authority or power.
The Bible often uses the word oppression to describe situations of military subjugation or economic exploitation. For example, in the book of Judges Israel was oppressed by invading kingdoms who attacked, plundered, and imposed harsh tribute on Israel. If you look in Exodus, you’ll see that Egypt oppressed Israel by enslaving the Israelites with hard labor and by enforcing the death of Hebrew boys.
In the Old Testament prophets, the rich in Israel were often condemned for oppressing the poor. They did this in various ways like in bribe filled courts where the poor could not get justice. Or they used false bartering weights and measures. You hear the Bible says that the Lord loves a just measure because people used false measures to get more out of the deal than they were supposed to.
Sometimes, the rich just outright withheld wages of those who worked for them. A poor man comes in from the work of the day ready to get his pay and the rich says they will not pay. He can do that because he is rich. Now Solomon was a man of great knowledge and experience and he learned of many acts of oppression both inside and outside of Israel. In fact Solomon participated in oppression in the latter part of his reign. In 1 Kings 11:40 and 1 Kings 12:4, Solomon perverted justice and tried to kill someone that hadn’t done anything wrong. He even impose exorbitant taxes on the people.
So as Solomon considers all the oppressions that take place in the world, even the ones that he himself brought about firsthand, a certain image sticks out in his mind and which he wants us to focus on as well. Notice how verse 1 continues:
And behold I saw the tears of the oppressed.
More literally this phrase is, “behold the tears of the oppressed.” Solomon is directing us to look at what behold means and to see for ourselves. We see the tears of the oppressed running down their cheeks. Maybe it’s a woman watching as her child is taken away to be sold into slavery. Maybe it’s an old man who has been beaten so badly he can no longer stand up. Maybe it’s a young child who is told that his parents are never coming home because they have been killed in a recent raid.
Perhaps the tears rolled down silently or maybe they are part of loud wailing and screaming. Solomon says to look at it and behold the tears of the oppressed. But then he continues and adds a very tragic detail. He says in verse 1:
And that they had no one to comfort them.
Literally, this is “and there was not for them comforting ones or comforters.” Solomon shows that this is not just the oppressed ones crying, but crying alone. They have no comforter, no one to speak soothing or encouraging words to them or cry with them. Even if people are literally around them, these oppressed ones are nevertheless suffering alone.
It’s not surprising when the Bible talks about people who are oppressed. It is usually a category of people who are uniquely alone and vulnerable: orphans, widows, and sojourners from other countries. When they cry, there are no comforters either. They weep but there is no one to help.
There is a reason for this as we behold the tears of the oppressed, the camera pans so to speak to show another image. Solomon adds another thought:
On the side of their oppressors was power.
What can the poor ones do when they’re staring at the face of someone with overwhelming power at their side? Maybe it’s a warlord with countless soldiers lined up next to him or a rich man who has bags and bags of money. What can the oppressed do and who will dare to help in the face of such dangerous evil and strength. So Solomon repeats at the end of verse 1 that they had no one to comfort them.
Like the echo, this one ruth haunts the oppressed. No one knows, cares, will help or comfort them. So what are they left to do but just cry and cry alone? It’s a terrible and heartbreaking picture yet according to Solomon, it has frequently appeared in our world and still does.
Solomon is not saying that we should just let oppression be. Many other Old and New Testament Scriptures emphasize how the righteous are to stand up for the oppressed. And that’s true for us too as Christians to help end oppression and intercede on behalf of those who are alone without strength.
But still Solomon knows that to some degree or another, as long as we live in this fallen world oppression will still occur. Even those who rise up to fight oppression often become oppressors themselves. Behold the tears of the oppressed. But what Solomon says next is quite startling. Look at Ecclesiastes 4:2-3:
So I congratulated the dead who are already dead more than the living who are still living. But better off than both of them is the one who has never existed, who has never seen the evil activity that is done under the sun.
The statement is shocking because it so clearly contradicts that assumption we all have that being alive even amid affliction is an objective good and preferable to death. Now there is a sense in which being alive is always preference to death. Solomon says this himself in Ecclesiastes 9:4:
Better to be an alive dog than a dead lion.
But there is also a sense that Solomon is expressing here when you consider the level and prevalence of oppression in the world and that so frequently those who are oppressed have no one to comfort them, Solomon testifies that he thinks the dead are better off. And even better than the dead are those who have yet to be born and seen all the terrible trouble.
What about eternal judgment? Are the dead really to be congratulated for escaping earthly suffering if without Christ they only go into something worse afterwards? That is the case for an individual, then there should not be any congratulations but just more weeping and mourning for that person because there will not even be comfort in death. But Solomon is not considering the prospect of eternal judgment in his statement here.
Remember that though Solomon is sure of a future judgment where they were will be final judgment by God of the righteous, he doesn’t know all the details of the afterlife like we do today with further revelation of the Scriptures. Furthermore, if someone is a God-fearer and suffering the way that Solomon describes, can we not sympathize with Solomon’s statement and maybe even agree with it? To take death and departure in order to be with God and to be comforted is preferable to living under heinous oppression without anyone to comfort you.
Now of course it is necessary to live as long as God deems because we are called to glorify Christ through righteous suffering. Just as He gloried the Father through His suffering. We do not have the right to take our own lives by suicide, which is really a form of self-murder. Yet, it is not wrong for us to say of a suffering Christian who dies that we are glad he has finally found relief with God.
But maybe you are not convinced and this all sounds melodramatic to you. Maybe the oppression was really bad in Solomon’s day and maybe it is kind of bad in certain places of the world but surely it is not that bad. Today we have a lot of advancements and surely oppression is better now.
Friends if that’s what you’re thinking, it’s only because you’re not as aware of what takes place today. Actually I think it’s a mercy of god that we don’t know all the evil that is taking place in the world right now because if we did, it’d be too overwhelming for us. Let me give you an illustration.
There was a woman who was arrested and killed in North Korea. Her death was reported by a North Korean defector in this way, “When we were living in North Korea we did not know she was practicing religion. However when I came back home I heard she was killed. When I asked why she died, I was told she was arrested alone whereas the whole family left the town because they were practicing religion. I heard shew as suffering and prayed until the point she died. She believed in Christianity and God. She was investigated in the provincial political security department and I heard that they hit her until she soiled herself. I heard they dried her out to death by not giving her a drop of water. I heard she died after suffering like a dog.”
My friends there are no words for such evil. But consider how many others in North Korea have suffered like this woman has, or suffered differently, or suffered worse. That’s just country, what about all the other nations in the world and all the other kinds of oppression that are still going on?
Consider modern slavery and human trafficking. Consider the children who are abducted and indoctrinated to become child soldiers. Consider many more kinds of oppression: people being defrauded of their savings and made to starve by those who are greedy or who have power. Despite our supposed our technological and philosophical advances and sophistication, the world is still filled with the tears of the oppressed and no one to comfort them.
Solomon’s points in bringing up this depressing fact is to emphasize to us that to live, toil, and suffer in this world alone is a miserable existence. Therefore as much as you are able don’t go through life alone. You may not be able to escape oppression, but at least find a comforter through it. Sorrow has a tendency to drive us away from people.
If you want to be wise, you must purpose to take your sorrows to people. Ultimately that person is the Lord Jesus Christ. You know Him as your Savior, your sympathetic High Priest, and He is the God of all comfort. He has sworn that He will never leave or forsake you and will be with you in the midst of suffering to give you grace to endure it even when everybody else abandons you. That was Paul’s testimony right? That everyone has left him but the Lord stood with him.
You definitely should go to your Lord for comfort. But remember that the Lord has given you comfort in a tangible way: His people, your brothers and sisters in this church. So do not fail to take advantage of that gift and tangible comfort from your Lord. Brethren, also be on the look out for those who are suffering and lone. That means you have to get to know others in the congregation. Sometimes you don’t even know how much people are going through and it’s not good for them to remain alone. You could help them through that and give them comfort or weep with them.
Life can be very hard and Solomon is not sugarcoating that but life is still better together. Our first crucial lesson on companionship is that the comfortless life is miserable. The second lesson appears in verses 4-6 and lesson two is that the jealous life is miserable. Look at the first part of Ecclesiastes 4:4:
I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor.
Notice here that Solomon is making another comprehensive statement about life. The topic is no longer oppression but this new topic still involves human relationships, which is the connection between work and jealousy. Notice the word labor in Ecclesiastes which in Hebrew means painful work, trouble, and toil. Also the word skill means success or achievement.
Solomon is making an observation about all work, painful labors and satisfying successes. That is emphasized further by his double use of the every. He says that every labor and every skill has a common aspect. All work is in Solomon’s view. What is common to all work according to Solomon is that it is the result of rivalry or more literally that it is rivalry, envy, and jealousy between a man and his neighbor.
What does that mean? The translators have added the phrase is the result of to help understand it. Life’s work, both painful and fulfilling, really stems from jealousy of your neighbor. You want to equal or succeed what he has, whether possessions or achievements. Thus envy really is the source of great works in the world. But jealousy is not the source of the labor, but the result. You accomplish something great and now your neighbor is jealous and seeks to accomplish something to outdo you. Then you do so in return and creates a cycle of jealous labor that has no end.
This means that much of the work in the world that is done is not really necessary to meet the needs of the world. It is done to satisfy and glorify the proud self. Solomon says this is what characterizes all toil and achievement in the world. There may be some exceptions and if we follow his wise way, we will be the exceptions. He says this describes man’s work in general. This is kind of a striking, bold assertion but can we verify it by just our own observation?
Look at a toddler that is totally uninterested in a certain toy until he sees another toddler become interested in it and now he has to have it and if he can’t have that one, he needs to have his own or something better. Are we very much better we who are adults? You didn’t care about getting the high score in a game until you saw your friend get the high score and now you feel compelled to outdo him.
Or you were content with your car or house until you saw an ad about a better one. You see other people in your same economic bracket with better stuff than you do. Look at how much they are enjoying it so you start to feel bad and begin planning and working so that you can catch up. You think that you’re already 30 or 40 and don’t have the stuff that your peers have.
Are you into tech? Do you work so that you can have the latest and greatest devices? Are you the opposite and actually boast and congratulate yourself on how long you are able to use the oldest devices? Don’t you see that it’s as Solomon says that it is all about rivalry and jealousy. Solomon has a word to say if you look at the end of verse 4:
This too is vanity and striving after wind.
Don’t you see? Your jealous striving is really for vapor and it won’t do you lasting or genuine good. So what if you get the highest score? It’s only a matter of time before somebody exceeds it and even if nobody does, you’re going to die and then what will that do for you? So what if you keep up with Joneses? Both you and them will have to give it all up one day. What do you gain for yourself in the meantime? A whole lot of stress, unhappiness and discontentment because you are so afraid of missing out or falling behind.
Moreover you end up regarding people not as friends who can help you or people you can minister to but rather competitors and enemies that must be sabotaged and outdone. Solomon says that this is vanity and wasted effort and counterproductive. So what should we do again and respond to the world’s envious striving? Solomon shows two ways we can respond in two proverbs. The first proverb appears in Ecclesiastes 4:5:
The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh.
One way to respond to the world’s rat race is with self-destructive laziness. The proud sluggard observes everybody jealously striving competing and he asks what fools work themselves to death working for testing while he commits himself to resting and completing no work. Rest is what Solomon is depicting in the first half of verse 5 to fold the hands is to clasp them together so you can use them as a pillow. That’s what the lazy fool wants to do: sleep and lounge. He thinks he is smarter than all the envious ones who are consumed by their work. He doesn’t realize he is consumed by his own laziness.
The image in the latter part of the verse emphasizes this in a way that is both comical and tragic. The loafer is so lazy that he is not even willing to go work to obtain food. But he does get hungry so he goes for the food that is near and available to him, which is himself. The sluggard starts biting into his own body. It’s a pathetic image and lazy fools don’t literally do this but figuratively they do.
They’re so committed to not working because they love comfort so much, they end up destroying themselves. They squander whatever wealth and resources are given to them. They mooch off others until they ruin those relationships. Life just gets harder and harder until they are totally ruined. This first proverb shows us a wrong way to react to the world’s jealous striving.
The right way is presented in the second proverb in verse 6:
One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind.
Now the New American Standard does a good job of literally translating this proverb but the sense remains a little bit obscure because after all how does one compare a handful of rest and two fistfuls of striving and labor? The intended sense of the proverb is better captured in the King James Version or the NIV. That sense is one handful with rest is better than two fistfuls with toil and striving after wind.
To say it another way, a little with contented peace is better than a lot with discontented striving. The way to respond to the world’s ongoing, agonizing, envious struggle against one another in work is not with proud and isolated sloth, but with contented labor. Don’t drop out of life but instead embrace the portion that God has given you and do the works that are before you. Don’t strive utterly to outdo your neighbor or to grasp after what he has because you can’t ultimately win the rat race and even if you did it wouldn’t satisfy you and you’re only making yourself miserable. Instead, take time to rest and enjoy the company of others and what you have.
No matter how little you have, if you have God it is enough. In fact it is more than than enough and a gracious gift. So we have two crucial lessons thus far, both showing us wrong ways to handle life and its relationship. Number one is that the comfortless life is miserable and number two is that the jealous life is miserable.
Lesson number three is in Ecclesiastes 4:7-8 which is that the miserly life is miserable. The verses say:
Then I looked again at vanity under the sun. There was a certain man without a dependent, having neither a son nor a brother, yet there was no end to all his labor.
Notice the word dependent, which in Hebrew is the word for second. Solomon is describing a man who has no second one, a parter that can offer him support. In other words, Solomon is describing a man who is all alone. He has no wife, no friends, no business partners with whom to share his work or life. Furthermore, he has no one to whom he can pass on a legacy, like a son or brother who can carry on the family name and inherit his goods.
Yet there was no end to all his labor. Even though this man has no one to support except for himself, he never stops working. Today we call that alcoholic. His motto is that work is for the day and there is always work to be done, money to be made, and deals to be struck. He’s probably good at his work because he never stops doing it. But is he happy? Solomon adds in the next line:
Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches.
How very sad. Not only is he totally alone but he doesn’t even enjoy his wealth no matter how much he makes. Literally, his eye does not eat its fill with wealth. His craving gaze is never full, sated, or fulfilled. He wants more money, wealth, achievements and possessions. He never stops his solitary work. The next line is very interesting as Solomon continues in verse 8:
And he never asked, “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?”
This question draws attention to the lonesome nature of this man’s existence. Since he has no one else to support or please, why is he working so much? For all throughout his work, he is actually depriving himself of pleasure and good. In order to save money and work more, he never takes time to enjoy the wealth that he has.
In other words, this man is not only a workaholic but a miser and a penny pincher. All that he is concerned with is making money. He is the kind of rich person who will eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day and walk about in the same shabby set of clothes just to save money. He doesn’t have time for people, rest, or enjoyment. Truly he is Mr. Scrooge of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol.
So the question is, what is this all even for? We already know this man has no companions. It’s not like he is even doing it for them. Why live this vain and ultimately miserable life. Now if you’re using the New American Standard Bible, you’ll notice the word “and he never asked” is listed in italics. This is the translator’s way of telling you that it doesn’t appear in the original Hebrew but is provided to help you understand it. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense from what he said before! There’s no introduction from “Indeed, his eyes were not satisfied with riches” to “And for whom am I laboring and depriving myself of pleasure?”
And do you notice another shift where Solomon talks about the man in the third person to talking about him in the first person. In so doing, Solomon introduces a certain amount of purposeful ambiguity in the text. Is Solomon reporting the dejected self-reflection of this miser in a sudden moment of clarity? Is Solomon observing the question that the miser foolishly never asks himself as the New American Standard would have us understand it?
Or in fact is Solomon thinking about his own life in light of the miser’s folly? He sees this man as a fool but then asks what about himself? It’s easy to shake your head at an Ebenezer Scrooge but you have to ask yourselves if you do in fact live in a similar way? How devoted are you to your work? Is it to the point that you don’t really have time for people? You work, go home and veg a little bit, and then go back to work.
Are you so concerned about the future that you don’t really have time for rest or enjoyment now? Maybe you tell yourself that it is true you don’t get to see your family because you work all the time, but that you do it for them and they know you love them!
Might they not actually rather that you work less or work a different job so you can spend more time with them? Maybe it means you live in a smaller house, have a cheaper car or only have one. My friends, we need to be careful when it comes to work. As difficult as work is, it can be an addicting escape. Maybe there is some reality you want to get away from like a relationship at home where the work of restoration is too painful and difficult.
Or maybe you just really love the commendations and the sense of greatness and accomplishment at work. So you pull yourself into it and ignore your family, friends, and church. You think you just need a little more money, achievement, and then you’ll finally feel whole and the pain will go away. Solomon has sad news for you, you’re not going to find what you’re looking for. The more you achieve and have, the less satisfied you are and you can never really escape the realities you’re trying to get away from.
There’s no hope in workaholism. The gain you’re looking for in your work will never arrive and it is a mirage that you’re chasing after! Meanwhile, you must sacrifice what makes life better just to try and grasp that vapor. Now it’s in terms of monetary savings and productivity, the workaholic miserly life is hard to beat. But the cost to your soul is too great. It’s interesting at the end of verse 8 Solomon says:
This too is vanity and it is a grievous task.
But the term grievous task could also be translated as bad business which is quite ironic. Do you want to talk about a bad business deal? It’s the workaholic and miser’s life. All the achievement and wealth is vapor and when worshipped, it is the false god that will never satisfy but will doom your soul. Just as Jesus says in Mark 8:36:
What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul?
Solomon is exposing for us foolish ways to approach life and to approach our relationships in it. In contrast, consider the wisdom of God’s way. Do you know what is the best way to enjoy your work and enjoy whatever wealth you have? It’s by sharing it with others. It’s not by being devoted to work and hoarding wealth, but by sharing it with others. Can’t we verify this by our own experience? Good food tastes better when you’re eating it with someone else who is enjoying it. A good joke is funnier when your friends are laughing. Work is more satisfying when you complete it as a team. The miser has it all backwards so we must not.
This is the wisdom of God to you today. If you really want to be wise and enjoy life, then you must realize that life is better together. Don’t suffer alone or jealousy strive against others. Don’t ignore others for the sake of chasing after some vapor. The better way is walking with God and accepting the gift of companionship. You won’t be able to accept this wisdom as long as you believe in a false god and that if you just received some gain in this world, you will be happy, secure, and saved.
Such does not exist in this fallen world and if you strive after it, you’ll only be frustrated. The only true gain in this world is something outside of this world and that is God, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is good and the source of all good. If you know Him and have Him, you already have the greatest treasure. It says in John 17:3:
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.
If you want gain, that is the only gain there is. You have to give up your own ideas of what gain is and stop looking at this world to find God. Once you embrace that, you repent of your old foolish way and instead by faith take hold of the God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Once you do that, you can actually accept and enjoy the little gifts of this world like companionship.
Perhaps this sermon is starting to sound like a Christmas movie. They’re always about others coming together. Part of that is God’s grace because people in the world also understand that to a certain extent. But the problem with those Christmas movies is that it makes it all about companionship.
That’s what we’re going to see when we come back to this passage. Companionship is a gift but it is not the way to lasting gain. Even your companions will not be everything that you want them to be or do everything you want them to do. We shouldn’t look for too much out of our companions even though they are a gift from God to us.
This morning as we end, ask yourself if you seek and accept companions or do you try to to go through life alone. Even if you have people around you, day you just try to go it alone? That’s why we love gathering together as a church and want to see more. It’s part of a life that is better together. As I said, companionship is a gracious gift of God and make sure you’re not neglecting it nor are we as a church.
Let’s pray. God, I thank You for this word. We thank You for friendships and companionships and the way the different people minister to us and we can minister to them too. This is made possible by Your kindness and the Lord Jesus Christ. He first of all became our friend. You are a relation God and You became our Lord and Savior and brought us into a new family. Jesus, we thank You that You are always with us those of us who know You. Father we thank You that You have made Your home with us. Spirit, we thank You that You are constantly with us and empowering us with strength for every day.
Oh God, if there is anyone here who does not really know what it is to have You as their God or what it means to have the saving Friend who is the Lord Jesus. I pray Lord that they would see the folly of looking for gain in all the vapors of this world and instead repent of that foolish, evil way and come to You for mercy and kindness and salvation. Lord God I pray that we would be living this out in the relationships we enjoy with one another. Not for ultimate gain but as part of the gift and the calling You give us and the way You’ve designed us as being made in Your image to live life together. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.