Isolation

Sometimes, when you least expect it, the Holy Spirit speaks to you in that still, small voice that reverberates through your being like a thousand-watt-sub-woofer pounding in your chest. Sometimes you catch something in the corner of your eye that you can’t un-see.

This morning I was doing my devotional reading on the YouVersion Bible App. For some unknown reason, it wasn’t a part of the devotional, Proverbs 18:1-2 appeared on my iPad. It reads: “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out [quarrels in NASB] against all sound judgment. A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion” (ESV). It was just a couple of days ago that I posted about my introvert nature, the need for approval, and examining our motives. And now God has brought me back for more.

I hope that I don’t come across as complaining. Far from it! Even though these “sidebars” in life often show me parts of myself that I’d rather keep locked away, invisible to my conscience, it’s in these very moments that I’m reminded that I am a child of God. In Hebrews 12, we’re told, “And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the ones he loves…” (vv. 5-6, ESV).

Now, I must get back to Proverbs, and the meat of which God was speaking to me. I’ve always taken a bit of pride in being introverted. This has been especially true with my thought that I don’t really need many people in my life, that I can get along just fine by myself. I’ve always acknowledged that God intends for every believer to be in fellowship with other believers. And I believe that we need to invest in the lives of others, and, in turn, have them invest in our lives. But I see now that I never completely bought into the the total concept.

Hebrews 10:24-25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Emphasis mine). Could it be that I have been happy as in introvert because I don’t want others to “stir me up?” Have I wanted to go through my Christian walk filling my mind with only my understanding of scripture?

I don’t think I’ve gone that far in my thinking, but I will acknowledge that there is some truth there that needs to be dealt with. “Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” God brings revelation into our lives a little at a time, for we are unable to deal with it all at once. As a result, when we isolate ourselves we often cut ourselves off from continuing revelation. Our spiritual growth becomes stunted.

“Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus. He was an eloquent man, competent in the scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord. And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, though he knew only the baptism of John. He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:24-26, ESV). Now, I don’t mean to imply that Apollos was an isolationist; it was quite the contrary. But his ministry was hindered by a lack of knowledge; he hadn’t advanced his revelation. After speaking with Priscilla and Aquila, however, “he greatly helped those who through grace had believed, for he powerfully refuted the Jews in public, showing by the Scriptures that the Christ was Jesus” (vv. 27-28).

Another example is found in Acts 19:2-5, “And he said to them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?’ And they said, ‘No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.’ And he said to them, ‘Into what then were you baptized?’ They said, ‘Into John’s baptism.’ And Paul said, ‘John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is Jesus.’ On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (ESV).

“A fool takes no pleasure in understanding, but only in expressing his opinion.” There have been many times, looking back, where I wasn’t listening to understand what someone was saying to me, but rather formulating my reply while they still spoke. I “knew” what they were going to say, and my response was way more important than my understanding. Not only is this arrogant and rude, but it is also demeaning to the other person, valuing them as less than one for whom Christ shed His blood!

This is something that I’ve worked on quite a bit in the last decade or so. I remind myself that all people are valued in the sight of God, and that I should, likewise, value them. It’s not always easy. There are people that are difficult to love. But everyone has a story, and if I can listen to and understand their story, then perhaps they will listen to mine. Perhaps I will be given the opportunity to share with them the life-giving message of Jesus.

I’d like to leave you with this thought from John Donne:

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man’s death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

 

 

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