"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. 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! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken."Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
As "the Preacher" continues through his list of vanities, he seems to make a few positive observations along the way. Here he explains that two people working and living together are better than one. There appear to be four reasons given for this. First, “they have a good reward for their toil” (v. 9). Two people working together produce more than one. This seems obvious by simple addition. But I think more is in view here. Two people working together will produce more than the same two people working individually. Couples, packs, teams, and communities have a dynamic that is encouraging and motivating.
One reason they produce more is also the next and separate reason two are better than one: “If they fall, one will lift up his fellow." Two people working together are better than one because they help one another in weakness and failure. People who work together can complement and fill each other out. Sometimes our individual weaknesses and failure become our destruction. But not if someone is there to help us. It’s like a safety net.
This idea is also tied into the work. Its not just the fallen person who would suffer, but the work. In the context of the mission of making disciples, this is a critical aspect to Christian community. It is not an individual task; we are to work together to accomplish it. And so we are called to exhort, correct, restore, forgive, strengthen, encourage, love, pray for, and bear one another up.
There is one other important dynamic to such teamwork: willingness to be helped. “Well, of course, why would anyone not want help?” PRIDE! We don’t even want to admit we have fallen and need help. Independence and self-sufficiency is the virtue of our culture that makes us weak.