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.
A friend. One who understands you, cares for you, listens to you, allies with you, supports you. The writer of Ecclesiastes understood the importance of friendships. God created us to live and work in relationship with Him and in relationships with others. He created a void in us that can only be filled by relationships. Finding like-minded and like-hearted people can be a true source of joy and comfort.
Robert B. Hayes (1984) developed a list of four rewarding friendship behaviors: companionship (sharing activities or one another’s company), consideration (helpfulness, utility, support), communication (discussing information about one’s self, exchanging ideas and confidences), and affection (expressing sentiments felt toward one’s partner). Paul H. Wright (1978, 1985) lists five friendship values: these are utility (providing material resources or helping with tasks), stimulation (suggesting new ideas or activities), ego support (providing encouragement by downplaying setbacks and emphasizing successes), self-affirmation (behaving in ways that reinforce a friend’s valued self-characteristics) and security (providing a feeling of safety and unquestioned trust).
This passage in Ecclesiastes teaches us that friends who work on a task together can rejoice together in their accomplishments. Friends can help one another – if one should fall, the other can help him or her up. Friendships strengthen life’s joys and limits life’s sorrows.
John 11:5 states that Jesus loved Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. These three had shown Him friendship and hospitality while He was here on earth. Jesus nurtured that relationship with His interest in their lives and his love for them. He knew that in order to be truly alive, we need more than food, water, and shelter. We need love. God works through our human relationships to give us comfort and encouragement. Friends are blessings from God.
Hayes, R. B. (1984). “The Development and Maintenance of Friendship.” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 1:75–98. Wright, P. H. (1978). “Toward a Theory of Friendship Based on a Conception of Self.” Journal of Human Communication Research 4:196–207. Wright, P. H. (1985). “The Acquaintance Description Form.” In Understanding Personal Relationships: An Interdisciplinary Approach, ed. S. Duck and D. Perlman. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications.