The Folly of Isolation

Ann Swindell

Day: 21 | Plan: Proverbs

Today's Reading: Proverbs 18

Proverbs 18:1 (ESV) "Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment."

For all of the connection that the internet can offer, the truth is that we live in a culture of isolation. We scroll on our phones, read about other peoples' lives, pin pretty things to virtual walls, and can go entire days — even weeks — without having a meaningful conversation with another person. It is easy to distract ourselves with memes and games and squares of curated pictures; it is hard to connect with others purposefully and vulnerably.

While the writer of Proverbs 18 could not have foreseen a world filled with virtual images and the ability to connect easily with someone across the globe, the wisdom offered in this proverb still stands. This chapter offers many nuggets of insight into the human condition and relational realities, but a reverberating theme is laid out in verse 1: "Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment" (Proverbs 18:1).

The writer is cautioning us: Keeping ourselves from meaningful human relationships and accountability is not just folly — it is also self-centered.

This might seem counterintuitive; how is being alone self-centered? It would seem like the opposite. But Scripture gives us insight into this as well … the fool won't engage in true relationship because they don't want to hear the truth that others offer: "A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion" (Proverbs 18:2). Additionally, the fool likes to talk without really listening. (Proverbs 18:13)

These things — refusing to hear the truth and talking without listening — cause isolation and they further any isolation that we already feel. That's because these actions push others away. No one wants to spend time with someone who pridefully expresses her own opinion without listening to the thoughts and insight of their friends. Pride pushes others — even God — away. (Proverbs 16:5)

This proverb cautions us that how we speak and what we say can lead us into destruction, (Proverbs 18:6-7) but that opening ourselves up to true community and feedback from godly people in our lives will be a safeguard against foolishness and pride. God has always known that we need true community and has set up life for His people accordingly. In the Old Testament, He set up a covenant people who would know and love Him and one another. And after the life, death and resurrection of Christ, the Holy Spirit formed the Church to be a place of truth, safety and love for all who call on the name of Jesus. Community has been God's design from the start.

We all need people in our lives who will tell us the truth, even when it's hard to hear. We need those who will tell us when we are speaking without listening and walking in pride. And we need to be those people to our friends — willing to speak the truth, even at the risk of a relationship. Our aim is to love our friends and their relationship with God more than we love our own relationship with them. May God give us the grace to do so in His love and truth.

Prayer: Lord, I confess that at times I speak before I listen, and I want to give my opinion more than I want to hear the truth. Forgive me and set a new heart within me, that I may be a woman of humility who longs for Your truth more than my own thoughts. In Jesus' name, amen.

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