Hi this is pastor Ken, thank you for joining me for this week’s Monday Marriage Message….Don’t Go It Alone
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. And a threefold cord is not quickly broken.
As a pastor, I have officiated at many weddings. In many of those ceremonies and countless others around the world, this scripture has been quoted. What does it mean? As with so many scriptures the fullness of its meaning will never be known this side of heaven, and though we may not ever gain a total understanding, neither should we stop at the literal interpretations of the English words on the page. So what truths are here that can at least be gleaned from the lower branches?
First – Two are better than one. If it wasn’t evident from other scriptures we have looked at in the previous podcasts, it should be abundantly clear here…we are created for relationship. We were not made to ‘go it alone.’ We certainly can walk through life alone. It is fully possible, just not fully profitable. Some of us, and I include myself in this category, like being alone from time to time, but that does not mean we are created for that purpose. Months ago I began this podcast illustrating for you that God created men and women, as equals yet different, for the purpose of being joined together, to complete the creation of an entity that is reflective of His image and likeness. Genesis 2:18 says: and the Lord God said “It is not good that man should be alone, I will make him a helper comparable to him.” I will dissect this scripture in much greater detail in next week’s episode, but the scripture clearly says that God said it is not good that mankind should be alone. We were created for relationship – relationship with other human beings and relationship with God. Genesis chapter three begins by telling us that in the cool of the day God came and walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. Literally thousands of scriptures indicate His desire for continued relationship with his creation, mankind. In fact, the entirety of the New Testament points to the truth…that particular desire of His has not diminished.
Second – They have a good reward for their labor – It has long been noted that two are more efficient than one. A team of two can move more than twice what one can move alone. Two people determined to accomplish a goal are exponentially more likely to succeed, not only because of greater physical strength, but also greater determination. When one who is alone becomes discouraged, he or she is finished, when two take on a task they are able to encourage one another when necessary, and keep the goal in mind until it is reached. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up. While this phrase can be looked at in a physical light, it also has great emotional implications. When one is alone, even if it is by choice, he or she is at much greater risk of discouragement, despondency, and dismay. All of these lead to a loss of momentum toward a goal, which often results in further downcast emotions. This cycle is only able to be broken easily if one has a companion to help. Added to this, is the truth that if we have no one to help we are likely to experience the negative side effects of feelings of uselessness and drudgery.
Third – Again, if two lie down together, they will keep warm; But how can one be warm alone? The obvious interpretation here is that where two are together they are physically warmer than one who sleeps alone. No doubt this is true. In his commentary, Matthew Henry takes it a step further and points out that: “If two lie together, they have heat. So virtuous and gracious affections are excited by good society, and Christians warm one another by provoking one another to love and to good works.” It is certainly true that a Christ-following husband or wife motivates their spouse to act in godly ways. One who loves Christ also chooses to meet the needs of their spouse in response to their own relationship with God. Additionally, He motivates us to perform acts of service for our spouse out of the abundance of love He has for us.
Fourth – Though one may be overpowered by another, two can withstand him. While the analogy here is also of a physical nature, there is a deeper spiritual truth present. There can be no question that all kinds of temptations come against marriages every day. As individuals we are much more susceptible than when joined with another. You rarely see a nature show featuring predators where the aggressor runs into the middle of a herd to take the stronger, healthier prey. Instead the predator circles the herd looking for the weak, the injured, the young or the one alone, and then after carefully choosing the easiest target, begins the advance against it. Our enemy is no different. The bible tells us he seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. If we will not try to ‘go it alone’ when it comes to temptations, but rather share our battle with a spouse or a trusted friend, they can stand with us in the fight. Inviting accountability, though humbling, is incredibly powerful at frustrating the enemy’s plans. James 5:16 (The Message) Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.
Fifth – And a three-fold cord is not quickly broken. Here again God makes his desire to be a part of our marriages evident. That is ultimately why we use these verses in so many wedding ceremonies. How do we know God means that He desires to be a part of our marriages? How do we know He is not simply indicating that three friends are even better than the two He has been speaking of to this point? God has just given four reasons two are better than one, but after making this statement of three being very strong He moves on to another subject altogether. Matthew Henry makes the point that Where two dwell in love, God, who is love, dwells with them. Henry makes no distinction between a Christian and a non- Christian couple. I believe he does not do so because God joins a man and a woman with a portion of His Spirit, as we have discovered, (Malachi 2:15) regardless of their allegiance to Him. As a result, marriage, made of a man, a woman, and a portion of the Holy Spirit, is a superior bond found in no other human relationship. Therefore, marriage has the potential to offer the greatest resistance against Satan, more so than any other relationship. 1 Corinthians 10:13 reads: No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. For those who are married and are willing to be vulnerable with one another about their personal struggles, the way of escape is built right into their marriage…it’s their spouse!Questions to Answer:
1. In what ways do you see God as an integral part of your marriage?
2. What ways do you think He would like to see His role increased in your marriage?
Actions to Take:
1. Discuss the steps the two of you could put into place to help you make sure God has a larger role in your marriage.
2. Talk about the times you have invited Him to be a larger part of your marriage and the results you experienced.
3. Talk about some times you think you could have done a better job of being more hospitable to God in your marriage. Discuss the results of holding God at arm’s length from your marriage.
So now, recognizing that you were designed for oneness with your spouse, use your marriage as an opportunity to give and experience encouragement and help second to none and…Go Be Awesome!