“Two Are Better than One”
FOR US to be happy, we need to feel that we are appreciated and wanted—yes, loved. And to be loved, we ourselves need to be loving. We should be willing to include others in our activities. Wise King Solomon observed: “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their hard work.”—Eccl. 4:9.
What is this reward? Solomon continues: “If one of them should fall, the other one can raise his partner up. But how will it be with just the one who falls when there is not another to raise him up? Moreover, if two lie down together, they also will certainly get warm; but how can just one keep warm? And if somebody could overpower one alone, two together could make a stand against him.” (Eccl. 4:10-12) Thus our working together with a good companion brings rewards in the form of assistance, encouragement and protection. Furthermore, have you not found that doing a job with a friend makes it easier, and that the time just seems to fly? Even in the case of an unpleasant task, the sense of drudgery fades into the background.
It is not just in secular pursuits that a trustworthy companion is a boon. The vital work of preaching the “good news” is also an activity where “two are better than one.” This is confirmed by what Jesus Christ did when commissioning the 70 to proclaim: “The kingdom of God has come near to you.” He “sent them forth by twos.” This arrangement served well for their upbuilding and mutual assistance.—Luke 10:1, 5-9.
WHEN PREACHING THE “GOOD NEWS”
After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven, it often proved to be helpful for his disciples to labor with companions. On learning that many in Samaria had responded to the preaching of Philip, the apostles sent Peter and John so that the “holy spirit” might be imparted to the believing Samaritans. (Acts 8:14, 15) Although Barnabas was sent out alone from Jerusalem to aid the congregation in Antioch, he soon saw the need for a companion to help him in furthering the “good news” there. So he left for Tarsus to get Saul (Paul). Thereafter both men labored together in making and teaching disciples in Antioch. Their cooperative effort was richly blessed with increase. (Acts 11:22-26) Later, the holy spirit directed that Paul and Barnabas share in declaring the “good news” on the island of Cyprus and in Asia Minor.—Acts 13:2.
Note that Barnabas put forth considerable effort in finding a companion that he felt would be of assistance to him. If he took the overland route, he traveled more than 120 miles (about 200 km) to get to Tarsus and then made a diligent search for Paul. While your finding a companion to share with you in preaching the “good news” to your neighbors may not involve that much effort, are you like Barnabas in really wanting a partner? In the congregation with which you are associated, with whom would you like to do this work? Have you taken the initiative to ask the person or persons?
DO NOT EXPECT TOO MUCH
Of course, we should not expect too much from our companions; nor should we give up when arrangements do not work out as well as we might wish. Though Paul and Barnabas enjoyed a number of years together as evangelizers, they did not continue as partners. After they had shared in establishing many new congregations, Paul recommended that they return to visit these. Barnabas agreed but wanted to take his cousin Mark along. Paul, however, would not hear of this, for Mark had not stuck with them on their first missionary journey. As a result, Barnabas decided to go with Mark to Cyprus, whereas Paul chose Silas as his companion and traveled through Syria and Cilicia, “strengthening the congregations.”—Acts 15:36-41.
As the Bible book of Acts reveals, this change did not hinder the proclamation of the “good news.” Similarly, if you should lose a partner with whom you have enjoyed companionship in witnessing activity for some time, do not give way to discouragement. There are other members of the congregation that can fill the place if you are willing to make room for them. You may well be surprised at how uplifting it can be to preach from house to house with others of your fellow believers. Of course, this does not mean that we always need to be accompanied by another person. Much can be accomplished by working alone, while our companions may be witnessing nearby.
PROFIT FROM BIBLICAL EXAMPLES
The Biblical examples of those who labored faithfully with others in advancing the “good news” can help us today in seeing ‘a good reward for our hard work.’ Barnabas was a warm, compassionate man. In fact, that is why the apostles gave him the surname Barnabas, meaning “Son of Comfort.” (Acts 4:36) While he had fine qualities, the indications are that Paul had certain superior gifts. When it came to presenting the “good news,” Paul evidently took the “lead in speaking.” (Acts 14:12) But there is no hint that this ever gave rise to feelings of jealousy or rivalry. Hence, if we are going to find pleasure in serving with others, we need to appreciate that Jehovah God is using all members of the congregation to do his work. (1 Cor. 3:9) We can learn from one another and be encouraged and built up by one another. The apostle Paul recognized this and, therefore, was able to write to the Romans: “I am longing to see you, that I may impart some spiritual gift to you in order for you to be made firm; or, rather, that there may be an interchange of encouragement among you, by each one through the other’s faith, both yours and mine.”—Rom. 1:11, 12.
When we truly appreciate the abilities and fine qualities of our fellow believers, we will be moved to make better use of our own gifts. For example, a person may feel that he is friendly and kind toward the people whom he meets in his witnessing activity. However, after working with a compassionate grandfather or grandmother, he may come to see that he possesses only surface friendliness. By accompanying someone who is a careful student of the Scriptures, one from whose mouth the words just seem to flow, a person may come to recognize that he needs to give more thought to what he says. Besides being of help to one another by example, our working with a companion often means that we will spend more time in witnessing, as we do not want to leave our partner by himself or herself.
It has pleased Jehovah God and the Lord Jesus Christ to use ordinary people to accomplish the most important work on the face of the earth. That work is to help others to become and remain faithful servants of the Most High as loyal disciples of his Son. (Matt. 28:19, 20; 1 Cor. 1:26, 27) Because it is God’s work, we do not know by what means Jehovah God will open up the hearts of individuals. It is not merely a matter of the spoken word. Especially important is the spirit with which the message is presented. When two persons work together, both contribute their part to that spirit. Months or even years later we may learn that it was not our fluent presentation from God’s Word that caused someone to listen to us. Rather, it may have been the beaming smile of our companion who had only recently joined us in declaring the “good news.”
Are you presently experiencing the blessing that comes from witnessing with a companion? Have you found that this has helped you to devote more time to the spreading of the “good news” and that you are enjoying it more? On the other hand, if you are doing much of your witnessing alone, remember Philip the evangelizer. Due to persecution in Jerusalem he fled down to Samaria and baptized believing Samaritans. Later, Jehovah’s angel sent him to convert and baptize the Ethiopian eunuch. Afterward, “Jehovah’s spirit quickly led Philip away, . . . Philip was found to be in Ashdod, and he went through the territory and kept on declaring the good news to all the cities until he got to Caesarea.” (Acts 8:1-40) Similarly, in modern times, many areas have been opened up to Kingdom witnessing by courageous Witnesses working alone with the help of God’s spirit.
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As in Jesus’ day, companionship in preaching the “good news” is upbuilding