The Peril of Isolation

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

No man is an island. This proverbial statement graces everything from church signs to educational material. I’ve heard it said so many times. So have you. But it’s true. Left to ourselves and our own opinions we can make anything seem right, can’t we? We can make any sinful tendency normal. We need people. We need people to provide companionship, but more importantly to provide the balance of sound judgment.

Outside input from godly friends and family provides a necessary safety net for us. When we isolate ourselves all we have is our own desire. We get what we want when we want it. We always look out for ourselves. We have our best interests at heart, don’t we? But if we are truly honest what we desire most might not always be the best thing for us. Left to the mirror of our own consciousness we can all too easily begin to see our own opinions as ultimate, and worse, our indwelling sin as minimal.

That’s what this proverb is getting at. Without the counsel, companionship, and correction of others we would spiral out of control, even to the point of spurning sound judgment. This is not a foreign concept in the Bible. In fact, it’s a common theme woven throughout the pages of Scripture. It was not good for Adam to be alone, and while this was “pre-fall,” after the arrival of sin he needed Eve all the more. The very fact that God instituted the local church, a body of redeemed sinners, to spread his glory throughout the world shows us that he never intended for it to be just me and Jesus. Let’s be honest, it’s easy to be a lone ranger. Relationships are hard. People aren’t always nice, fun to be around, or even that interesting. And sometimes we would much rather it be just us and Jesus. He’s nicer, more gracious, doesn’t ever say the wrong thing, and doesn’t get all up in our business like the people closest to us.

And that’s exactly why we need people.

The people in your local congregation are people for whom this Jesus shed his blood. Building relationships with one another is part of his perfect plan to change us and make us more like him. Sure, it’s hard work. Sure, people will hurt us, misunderstand us, and sometimes say the wrong thing to us. But that’s all part of it. They chisel us. They make us more aware and sensitive. And more importantly, they help us see sin that we didn’t even know was still there.

Regardless of your personality, the truth still stands. Even the most outgoing person can miss the principal the proverb is trying to make. We have to be willing to open our lives to people and let them see inside—even if it’s not pretty at first. Thankfully, we have a perfect example in Jesus. Of all people who could live an isolated life, he would have been the one to do it while on earth. He was God. In him was complete perfection and holiness. But he came to earth and opened his life up so we could be cleansed, forgiven, and no longer live in sinful isolation from everyone else.

So when you feel tempted to hide and live in isolation from the ones who love you and know you, remember the Savior. Not only did he obey perfectly, but he has made a way so you no longer have to live in fear of condemnation for your sins. The sound judgment you deserve was paid for by the holy, precious, and victorious Jesus. He bought you with a price and adopted you into his family.

So the saying really is true for us. In Christ, no man is an island.