Competition and Companionship
I saw that all labor and all skillful work is due to a man’s jealousy of his friend. This too is futile and a pursuit of the wind. The fool folds his arms and consumes his own flesh.
Better one handful with rest, than two handfuls with effort and pursuit of the wind. Again, I saw futility under the sun: There is a person without a companion, without even a son or brother, and though there is no end to all his struggles, his eyes are still not content with riches. “So who am I struggling for,” [he asks,] “and depriving myself from good?” This too is futile and a miserable task. Two are better than one because they have a good reward for their efforts. For if either falls, his companion can lift him up; but pity the one who falls without another to lift him up. Also, if two lie down together, they can keep warm; but how can one person alone keep warm? And if somebody overpowers one person, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not easily broken. Eccl 4:4-12 (HCSB)
What value do we add to our life if we struggle through life alone? What satisfaction comes from always competing in a one man race? Life is about companionship and competition among friends. We are born social creatures by God’s design and our inspiration for accomplishing great and innovative things comes from our relationships with others.
“Keeping up with the Jones’ next door” is a catch phrase that speaks about man’s desire to maintain the status quo with our neighbors and friends. Merely driving down the interstate reveals the competitive nature of mankind. Few drivers are satisfied to allow traffic to buzz by without eventually pushing down on their gas pedal just a little harder to keep up or even gradually pass other vehicles. For most of us, what contentment is found in putzing through life always allowing others pass us by? Is that why we enjoy all sorts of races and sporting events, even if the thrill is watching others compete from the stands? We even introduce our children to all sorts of competitive games and teach them the value of winning from an early age. Our justification — competition prepares them for engaging into beneficial companionships as they grow up.
It is in the nature of man to also enjoy the company of likeminded close friends. Part of our social acceptance depends upon our circle of companions. Sadly, we are considered social misfits if we walk throughout life without any friends.
Our need for companionship is a survival instinct instilled within us by God. Man alone is a weak creature, but with the aid of friends and family he becomes a compelling adversary for even the fiercest animal.
Why is it we embrace team sports so much — football, baseball, basketball, soccer, volleyball, even an impromptu tug-of-war match? Is it that our primal instincts are stirred by the companionship and raised level of competition involved? Even the lonely cross-country or marathon runner seeks a companion to run with until they push each other toward the finish line.
Survival is a necessity of life and demands us to perform at our best to either outrun our ever-present adversary or catch our prey. Companionship inspires and encourages peak performance, whether in survival mode or merely pursuing adulation over a game with friends at a party. God has in his wisdom instilled the gifts of companionship and competition to enable us to be the best we can be.
HOWEVER, companionship and competition is a gift from God. We must daily seek God’s will, ways, and wisdom as we grow through the designed companionship and competition God intends for our greater good. Never allow selfish motives to destroy what God designed for all of our good.
May the games begin with the Lord urging us all toward the finish line!
Words of Wisdom #227-11EC