The Temptation To Isolate

Jeff Lyle

“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” – Proverbs 18:1

The individual in the proverb above is described as someone who purposefully separates himself from others. In essence, it would seem that the person is, in some fashion, hiding from others so as not to have to listen to their counsel. He has learned to trust only in himself and has no willingness to listen to others who might share wisdom with him. He’s a self-determined dissident who has, for some reason, crossed a line where he no longer values what others have to offer. By the way, he feels very safe but also…very alone.

Many of us had to learn the hard way that to live a detached life is not to live at all. God has created us to live in community with one another. An isolated life is a contradiction in terms because God has neither ordained nor permitted us to live unto ourselves. He created you and me for His own glory, and that glory is to be put on display before others. What good is a song if it is never heard? A poem can be masterfully written but if there is no audience to ponder the prose then it becomes a mockery. Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder, but what good is it if is never displayed before beholding eyes? Your life and mine are precious gifts, entrusted endowments from on high, to be publicly presented to any who care to see them as reflections of our Creator, Redeemer and King. I love the words of the recently gifted lepers of 2 Kings 7:9-10 who said, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news. If we are silent and wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come; let us go and tell the king’s household.” These starving, dying men had stumbled upon a treasure trove of provision and had initially chosen to keep it to themselves. Spiritual reason eventually overcame them, and they understood that the bounty bequeathed to them was meant to be shared with others. So it is with your life. God has given it to you for the benefit of others and the magnifying of his name. The greatest downside of isolating yourself is that people are robbed of experiencing something wonderful which God made. That wonderful thing is you.

Hurt can result in hiding, but we are least like the Savior when we withdraw from others. Retreat and self-preservation are anti-God qualities in us. He is eternally pursuant and sharing. He reaches out and relentlessly seeks for others. Remember that God is actually rejected more often than He is received, yet He refuses to withdraw from humanity. Amazingly, He has no need or deficiency in Himself that motivates His reaching out to others; His doing so is entirely for the benefit of the one pursued. Could we imagine the abysmal thought of how things would be if He retreated and hid Himself from us because of the great pain we’ve caused? Not a one of us is without sin, and our sin was toward Him, upon Him and against Him. His response? Chase down those heinous violators of all that is good and holy and…make Myself known to them in compassion, grace and mercy.

We deadbolt our doors and draw the blinds. He kicks the door off the hinges and opens the windows to afford us every possible means by which to be restored to Him. Herein is another piece of evidence as to why He is Lord and I am not.

Grace and forgiveness are the twin antidotes to bitterness. Hostility isolates. Self preservation decays. Bitterness poisons us all the way down to the spiritual atoms of the soul. The enabling force to prevent us from isolating ourselves and refusing the wisdom, counsel and investment from others is the realization of Christ’s response to us when we have committed spiritual treason against Him. I must forgive as one forgiven. I must reach out as one who has been reached. I must offer embrace to others because I myself am lavishly welcomed by God. My emotions will tell me that sometimes the perfect place for me is found by putting life in reverse gear and backing slowly into my self-preserving shell. Adam was the first to hide from Someone, and we have inherited his fearful DNA. Some of you are being called out of from behind your fig leaf. God is telling you that it is time to risk it again. The room you have been withdrawing to only has enough oxygen for one, and He is knocking on the door to let some fresh Kingdom air in, and to walk you on out. Unbolt the door, friend…raise up the blinds…the shining sun will chase the shadows, clarify your discernment and reveal to you those around you who have much to offer. Be there when it happens.