REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, written by Pastor Mark Chun of Radiance Christian Church in S.F., was originally posted on September 10, 2014. Mark is a graduate of University of California, San Diego (BS) and Talbot School of Theology (M.Div.).
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Two Are Better Than One”
Ecclesiastes 4:9-16 (ESV)
Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 10 For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! 11 Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? 12 And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken. 13 Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice. 14 For he went from prison to the throne, though in his own kingdom he had been born poor. 15 I saw all the living who move about under the sun, along with that youth who was to stand in the king’s place. 16 There was no end of all the people, all of whom he led. Yet those who come later will not rejoice in him. Surely this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
I once read that two oxen yoked together can pull more than double the weight that the same oxen can pull separately (with all things being equal). This is an amazing example of ‘two being better than one’ in terms of output and reward for our labors. In our fiercely individualistic culture however, this basic concept has long been forgotten, and as a result, we are constantly trying to ‘pull our own weight’ without regard for anyone else.
Ironically, the need for each other is a lesson we learn early in our childhood. Whenever I chaperone my daughter’s field trip, all the students, after being paired up, are instructed to watch out for each other. This works remarkably well, which lessens the stress in adults while teaching the children the importance of caring for someone beside themselves. It’s to our detriment that we gradually forget this rudimentary lesson; ultimately, in our self-sufficiency we become oblivious to the fact that this principle is God’s plan for how we ought to work for and serve him.
Robert Bellah, professor emeritus (in sociology) at the University of California, Berkeley, sees expressive individualism, referring to one’s outlook in life in which a person is solely concerned with fulfilling his dream, as a main culprit to the fabric of society coming unglued. Its byproduct is individuals unconcerned about the common good, which then becomes fodder for social problems.
As a remedy, the eminent sociologist writes, “To make a real difference. . ., there has to be a reappropriation of the idea of vocation and calling, a return in a new way to the idea of work as a contribution to the good of all and not merely as a means to one’s own advancement.” Paul puts like this: “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28 ESV). It is stunning that this scholar from a leading liberal institution in America is echoing what the Scriptures have been saying for thousands of years.
Whatever differences made as a result of an individual pursuit of success will pale in comparison to the differences made when we labor together and with others in mind. Not only will we be happier, because of the friendships made, but also by the amount, effectiveness and usefulness of the work accomplished. Be a team player today!
Prayer: Lord, give us the wisdom not only to work harder but to work smarter. We confess that because of our pride, we fail to work together for the building up of Your kingdom. Help us to see Your intent for us to work with one another, not simply for our own personal advancement but also for the good of our churches and communities. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 2 Chronicles 29
Lunch Break Study
Read 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 (ESV): Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. 9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. 10 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. 11 For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. 12 Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
Questions to Consider
- Why is laziness inherently a selfish and individualistic attitude towards work?
- What pattern of work is Paul advocating for us to imitate?
- Identify some areas of laziness in your life.
- At the core, being idle does not take into account that your lack of work ethic affects those around you. By not doing your share of the work, you are robbing the community of the benefits it could have derived from your diligence. Laziness is, in effect, a subtle form of self-centeredness that keeps your family, church, or work from reaching its fullest potential.
- Paul and his co-workers, while serving this young church, refused to be a burden on them. They were mindful of the common good as they labored together to establish this congregation. In fact, Paul rarely worked or traveled alone according to the epistles; he constantly had friends, disciples, and partners with whom they co-labored.
- Person response.
Are you currently serving your church? If not, why not? If so, how is your relationship with other members and is there a sense of partnership in the gospel? Pray about how you can work more closely with friends, family, and members of your church to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.