Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Two are Better than One

Leslie Basham: Do you have a true encourager in your life, someone brave enough to tell you the truth? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Encouragement isn’t just saying, “I love you. I think you’re wonderful.” Sometimes encouragement is saying, “Watch out. I think you’re vulnerable there.”

Leslie: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, June 1.

Last week Nancy began a series called, The Power of Relationships. We’ve seen why the desire for connection and the battle against loneliness is universal. Sometimes we just need to get warm. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: When the white man first arrived in North America, the Native Indians did not have a written language or alphabet, but their vocabulary was often more eloquent and more expressive than that of the French and English explorers. For example, the word friend was understood by the Native Americans as “one who carries my sorrows on his back.” Isn’t that good? That’s a real friend.

We’ve been talking about friendship, relationships, why we need them, why we struggle with them. We’ve talked about the problem and the pain of injustice, of oppressive, of painful relationships. We’ve talked about the problem of isolation, just aloneness.

Now we’re talking about God’s prescription for both painful and non-existent relationships, and that is: God’s desire is that we should have intimate relationships, not injustice, not isolation, but intimacy.

The passage we’ve been studying together is Ecclesiastes chapter 4. A lot of Ecclesiastes talks about the meaninglessness, the vanity, the emptiness of life under the sun. That phrase appears 26 times in the book of Ecclesiastes says that life without God, relationships without God, relationships lived apart from God are empty.

As we’ve come to verse 9 in Ecclesiastes, and again, I hope that you are following along in your Bible, we’ve come to this phrase, “Two are better than one.” Then we’re given four reasons that it’s good to have healthy, godly relationships. We talked first about how these characteristics, these blessings, these benefits of intimate relationships apply to our relationship with God, how He meets our relational needs in these four ways.

Now we’re talking about how these qualities, these characteristics apply to our relationships with each other on the horizontal level.

We saw in the last couple of sessions that two are better than one first because they have a good return for their work. There’s increased productivity. They’re able to be more productive. Their labor is more fruitful. When you work with someone who has different gifts and abilities than you have, you combine your labors, and you find you can be more effective.

Then in verse 10, we looked at in the last session, “If one falls down [this is another reason that two are better than one] his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up.” We talked about how intimate friendships and relationships can provide help—help in time of adversity, help in time of difficulty, and how a good friend can help us up in times of failure. When we have fallen or we’re about to fall, or when we can’t stand up on our own, a good friend, starting with God who is our truest friend, but then good friends here on earth can help us in these times. They can help us stand upright, help pull us out of a pit when we’ve fallen down.

And again, it’s not that we’re to lean on people—we lean on God—but we realize that God often uses His people. As we’re members of the body of Christ, members of the family of God, God uses His people to help us, to lift us up, and to keep us from falling.

We not only want to look to how we can get that kind of help from others, but as we’re considering this passage, we want to be asking the Lord, “How do You want me to be that kind of friend to someone else who has fallen? Who is down?” Rather than just kicking them down or talking to other people about how they’ve fallen, how can I help up those who have needs?

Now we come to verse 11, which says, “Also"—this is another reason that two are better than one, another reason we need relationship. “If two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”

This says to us that one of the benefits and blessings of relationship with God and with others is that intimate relationships provide comfort and companionship in our times of need. “If two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?”

There’s a sense in which this is literally true, or can be. I’ve read that one’s body heat can actually keep another person from freezing if they’re out in a very cold environment. I think, obviously, the author has more in mind here than just the matter of body temperature.

“If two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?” The implication here is that there’s a cold environment. And this world certainly is cold and harsh. That’s why we need each other—in times when those biting Northern winds come sweeping through our lives, times of grief, times of sorrow, times of adversity, times of financial pressure.

When we’re cold, when we’re needy, we need other people to comfort us, to provide companionship, to keep us warm, to keep us alive, to encourage us, to give us spiritual and emotional warmth and hope, to give us perspective. Sometimes that’s what keeps us alive—just realizing there is a point of view—God’s point of view—that can help me get through this.

I’ve got a number of precious friends who fill all of these different types of relational needs in my life. I think of one friend with whom I talk on the phone quite often. We don’t see each other a lot, but when I’m feeling like I’m just buried, overwhelmed, swamped, can’t keep my head above water, this friend has a way, with just a soft, soothing tone of voice, of encouraging me and saying in essence, “Nancy, you’re going to make it. God has been so good to you. God has helped you through this. God has brought you this far.” She just speaks words that warm my heart. There are those times when I couldn’t keep warm by myself, but I need someone like my friend to come along in that harsh, cold world and give me warmth and hope.

Again, we see that the apostle Paul had this kind of need. You think of Paul as being very capable, very strong, and probably not needing other people. But that’s not true. Repeatedly throughout the Epistles, Paul expresses his need for the warmth of others.

In 2 Corinthians this comes out a couple of times. Second Corinthians 2, verses 12 and 13, Paul says,

When I came to Troas to preach the gospel of Christ, even though a door was opened for me in the Lord, my spirit was not at rest because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I took leave of them and went on to Macedonia.

Now, I don’t know what all’s behind that. We don’t know more than what the Scripture said there, but apparently Paul needed warmth. He went to Troas, and there was an open door to preach the gospel, but he said, “I was unsettled. I was troubled.” We don’t know why. Maybe it was other circumstances in his life, but he said, “My friend Titus wasn’t there, my brother Titus. We’re part of a family. I needed him. I was unsettled. So I left that place and went on.”

Second Corinthians chapter 7, verse 5, Paul says,

Even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn, fighting without and fear within, but [I love this verse] God who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus.

So now Titus had come, and now Paul could be warmed. Now he could be comforted. There wasn’t anything strange or weird about this relationship. It’s the family of God. Paul said, “I needed my brother, Titus. I was facing afflictions—fightings without, fears within—but God who comforts the downcast, God who warms cold hearts, God warmed me, God comforted me by sending my brother Titus.”

It may be when you move to a new city, maybe when you lose a job, it may be in the loss of a loved one, but you’re cold, and you’re just kind of shivering inside. That’s when we need a friend. That’s when two are better than one, because if two lie down together, they will keep warm.

I just think about so many people who have kept me warm, who have kept my heart warm, my spirit warm, over the years in various seasons of my life. In the ministry of Revive Our Hearts, there are so many people who keep my heart warm. When I tend to get discouraged or weary in the ministry, I thank God for the encouraging emails, for the letters. We receive so many letters from people who say (people I’ve never heard of before, people I’ve never met), “I’m praying for you. I pray for you daily. I pray for the ministry of Revive Our Hearts.”

I just want to say, if you’re one of those people, you cannot imagine what that does to my heart. It warms me on days when I feel so cold, so needy, and God sends you along.

Just a week or so ago I was out walking with a friend. We got to talking about what was happening in our lives. My heart was feeling kind of heavy, and when we got back, she said, “Can we just sit down?” We sat down on the front stoop outside my house, and she began to ask questions, and we talked. Before many minutes had passed, I was sitting there in tears, and this friend just put her arm around me, held me, and began to pray. How God used that friend—two are better than one. We can keep each other warm. God used that dear sister to warm my heart at that moment.

I’ve had the privilege over the years—and it is a privilege—not only of being warmed by God’s people, but also of keeping others warm, of holding others whose hearts and lives were in cold circumstances, of praying with them, of weeping with friends after the loss of a mate, at the graveside of an infant child, praying, crying, coming alongside, keeping warm.

Our natural tendency is to focus on, “Who’s keeping me warm?” We often feel needy, and we can tend to get resentful or bitter if we feel like, “I need someone to come warm me up.” Especially if you’re a single woman or single again or widowed, living by yourself, single mom—maybe you feel so alone. I know what it’s like to feel like you don’t even want to go to church because you don’t want to sit by yourself one more time. I know that many of our listeners have that kind of experience. I know that there’s that sense sometimes that, “I wish someone would call me. I wish someone would initiate relationship with me.”

Let me say, we need to be the warmers. We need to look around and say:

  • Who’s cold, besides me, and who can I sit next to?
  • Who’s another person at church who doesn’t have someone to sit with them?
  • How can I initiate relationship and the giving of warmth to others?
  • Who am I keeping warm?
  • Who am I reaching out to?

Are you alert and sensitive to the needs of those around you, those who need to be warmed?

Let me promise you—and I’ve seen it to be true over and over and over again in my own life—as you warm others, you’ll get warmed yourself. When you hug someone else, you’re going to get warm. When you reach out and pray and listen and care, God will make sure—the God who comforts the downcast—will make sure that your heart gets warmed.

Now we come today to verse 12. This is another reason that two are better than one. Two are better than one because “though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Here’s another blessing and benefit of living in community, living in fellowship, living in relationship first with God and then with other people. First the vertical relationship—if that one’s not right, then the horizontal relationships will not be right. Don’t expect to have intimacy in your marriage if you don’t have intimacy in your personal relationship with God. Don’t expect to solve the conflicts in your church or in your work place if you are not rightly related to God.

Now we come to this benefit, which is: “If one is overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Relationships provide protection and defense in time of danger. Relationships can provide for us strength and help in time of attack. When we’re in trouble, when we’re under attack, when we’re in danger, godly relationships can help protect us.

There are times when we all get overpowered by our circumstances or by opposition that we’re facing. Listen, if you’re living a godly life, expect opposition. Jesus experienced it, and He said that all of His disciples would experience it as well. Expect that people will not always be thrilled with your living a godly life.

Expect there will be times of ridicule or misunderstanding. It may happen in your marriage. If you’re married to a non-believer or a man who is not walking with God, expect there will be times when you will feel overwhelmed and overpowered just by the enemy’s opposition. Now, your husband is not the enemy. The enemy is Satan, and don’t forget that in relationships. But Satan can use other people to create in our hearts a sense of being overpowered, overwhelmed.

When we’re alone and we get into those adverse circumstances, when we get into times of danger or times of spiritual attack, if we’re alone, we’re going to be vulnerable. We’re going to be vulnerable to attack from the evil one.

  • We’ll be vulnerable to temptation.
  • We’ll be vulnerable to discouragement.
  • We'll be vulnerable to giving up.

This is one of the reasons, by the way, that we need to be so careful about our habits when we’re alone. This is why I’ve tried to make a habit over the years—with very few exceptions—of not watching television when I’m by myself because I know that I’m going to be more vulnerable to wrong ways of thinking, to the enemy’s attack in my mind and my emotions. This is why—although I travel a lot and I live alone—there’s always someone who knows where I am, and there always people who are conscious of my schedule and people who are praying for spiritual and other types of protection over me when I am alone.

I realize that anyone is vulnerable if they don’t have the means of grace and protection that God has provided. You see, you and I were not intended to live the Christian life alone. We weren’t intended to do it by ourselves, and we cannot survive without having an active role in each other’s lives.

By the way, it’s not just two being talked about here. Verse 12 helps us realize that we shouldn’t limit ourselves to just one other person in our lives. “A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” What a neat thing it is to meet women who are in small prayer groups around the country, praying in groups of two’s, three’s, or four’s.

I remember hearing some women say they call each other every day on the phone, or periodically on the phone to pray with each other. It may be two or three or four—don’t limit your friendships to one person. You’ll start to suffocate the friendship and to place your security more easily in that one person. Make sure you include others in that circle of relationship. Those relationships within the body of Christ can protect us when we’re in danger, protect us when we’re under attack.

We have such a need for accountability. I know that’s a word that some of us aren’t real comfortable with. We’d rather be independent. We’d rather do things on our own. We’ve been trained to be self-sufficient, but the fact is we’re not self-sufficient. We need each other, or we’re going to be overpowered by the enemy.

I need accountability in many different areas of my life. Just some practical areas. As I’m getting a little older, I find I need more accountability in the area of diet and exercise. That thing of getting out of my study and walking is increasingly important with my schedule, but it’s not something I enjoy doing unless I’m pushed to do it. I have a friend, Sandy, who periodically will check up and say, “Are you getting out? Are you doing your three-times-a week walking?” If it weren’t for Sandy’s emails and calls, I probably would not be getting out even those three times a week to do that walking. I need the accountability and the prayers.

But I need it in other areas of my life, and you do as well. Hebrews 3, verse 13 says, “Encourage [or exhort] one another daily.” How often is that? Every day. How often do we need another in our life? Every day. Why? “Encourage one another daily lest any of you"—that’s you believers—it can happen to anyone. It can happen to me. It can happen to you—"lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (KJV). 

I want so much to keep a heart that’s tender toward God, a heart that’s sensitive to Him, a heart that’s sensitive to sin, a heart that is pure. First I need the Holy Spirit to do that in my life, but then I need you, and you need me. We need each other daily to encourage each other.

Encouragement isn’t just saying, “I love you. I think you’re wonderful.” Sometimes encouragement is saying, “Watch out. I think you’re vulnerable there, or I think you might be vulnerable there.” Or, as a friend of mine used to say, “I could be a million miles off, but is it possible that  . . .” and then this friend would bring up something that they had a concern about. I tell you what, they were rarely wrong, as I look back on it. So we need to exhort one another daily so that our hearts will not become hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Having right relationships, godly relationships are what strengthens us against the enemy. It’s what empowers us to do the will of God. When we have right relationships, we will not be easily overcome by the enemy.

Let me say that not only do we need those people in our lives, but we need to be willing to be that second or that third person in the lives of others. It’s true in your marriage. Your husband is an object of the enemy’s attack. He’s a target of the enemy. The enemy wants to destroy your husband morally. He wants to destroy him spiritually. He wants to destroy him emotionally. The enemy wants to do that to your children and others in your sphere of influence.

As a wife, as a mom, as a friend, sometimes you need to be that second person, that third person to come alongside and say, “I’m going to stand with you. I’m going to protect you. I’m going to defend you.”

I have a friend whose husband has fallen into great moral sin, and I’ve watched that woman go to battle for her husband, not against her husband as many women would. Don’t beat your husband up when he’s down. Help him up. And you don’t do it by preaching at him. You don’t do it by nagging him. You do it by loving him and wisely and prayerfully speaking words as God directs. But I’ve watched my friend doing battle for her husband so that he would not be overcome and destroyed by the enemy.

If he gets delivered, as it appears that he’s going to, it will be because he had a wife who loved him enough to come alongside and say, “I’m not leaving you. I’m going to hang in there. I’m going to pray like crazy. Regardless of what you do or don’t do, I’m going to wage war with you for your soul.”

  • Who is the person that you have helping you so you don’t get overpowered?
  • Who is the person that you’re helping so that they don’t get overpowered by the enemy?

Leslie: Good questions from Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She’ll be right back to pray.

She’s been challenging us to encourage others in their walk with Christ. Books are very valuable. Radio programs are very valuable. But sometimes women of God need to get together and experience the kind of experience we’ve been hearing about. So don’t miss your chance to join us for the True Woman conferences this fall. Be part of the Midwest Conference this September. It’s in Indianapolis. Or come to the Southwest Conference in October. That one’s in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Don’t come alone. When you put a group of ten people together, you’ll save $30 off each registration, and as the group leader, you’ll also get a free registration. This spring sale ends June 25, so contact us at 1-877-966-2608 to get the details.

Just imagine the impact you could have on a group of your friends. They’ll sit for a weekend with their Bibles open, being challenged and equipped to live out the beauty of biblical womanhood. That number again is 1-877-966-2608. Start putting your group together.

Well, do you really need the body of Christ? Can you grow without being in relationship? Nancy will address those questions tomorrow. Please be with us for Revive Our Hearts. Now she’s back to lead us in prayer.

Nancy: Thank You, Lord, that You are our defender, our refuge, our fortress. You are the one who delivers us from the enemy. Thank You that You use Your people to provide protection and defense. Thank You that two are better than one, and that, when we have the potential of being overpowered, You put people into our lives to defend us. Help us to receive that help and also to provide that help for others. I pray in Jesus’ name, amen.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.

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