Read: Proverbs 18
Key Verses: Proverbs 18:1. “He who separates himself seeks his own desire, he quarrels against all sound wisdom.”
Devotional: I’ll be honest, I almost never disagree with myself. I love what I say. My opinions are always right and I always think my jokes are funny. My wife said to me just the other day, “I always know when you’re about to read me something that you wrote that you think is funny because you’re already laughing.” She’s right, in my opinion my jokes are always the funniest.
If you’re honest you deal with the same thing as well. For you it may not be your funny jokes but it could be your opinion or stance on a particular topic. We become really good at convincing ourselves that our view is the right one and we take our delusion a step further by surrounding ourselves with people who think like we do. We tend to shy away from making friends with those who differ too much from our basic tenets. My heart here isn’t to get into a political discussion or a hot topic debate, I’ll leave that to the media. Let’s talk about your spiritual journey and those that you choose to or choose not to surround yourself with.
Proverbs 18:1 challenges us on this very idea. The writer of Proverbs pinpoints our root desire when we choose to separate ourselves from Biblical relationships - selfishness. We want to do what we want to do and we’d rather not have anyone tell us otherwise. In an effort to feel better about our decisions we cut off everyone who challenges our way of thinking.
Having been in full time ministry for almost 18 years and coming from a large family myself I have witnessed this trend on multiple occasions. Teenage girls and guys, adult men and women, senior citizens have all demonstrated the same behavior. When they don’t like what’s being said and how it makes them feel, they simply walk away. They stop returning phone calls, emails, texts. They separate themselves.
What’s interesting is that the separation usually doesn’t happen all at once. It starts small. A gradual distancing. An unreturned phone call here, a missed family dinner there. Slowly but surely those who at one time had been strongly connected to a community of faith or family now find themselves on an island.
At first glance, the benefits of island life seem pretty appealing. You get to come and go as you please, you make your own schedule, you always get the remote and you don’t have to answer to anyone. As time passes though you begin to realize that island life is lonely. Those who once surrounded you have now moved on, not because they’ve abandoned you but rather because you’ve pushed them away.
Allow me to fast forward the clock for you and let you in on what’s to become of your island life. You will come to regret these choices. I know that’s a bold statement and perhaps turns you off to further reading but I feel obligated to speak this truth to you. We were designed to be in relationship with one another. God placed you in the family and community of believers He has placed you in for a reason. They need you and more importantly you need them. Allow yourself to be surrounded by people who will challenge the way you think and sharpen you towards greater Christ-likeness.
Take Action: Take some time to think through who you have “cut off” in the past? There are good reasons for distancing yourself from people, especially unhealthy people but is that the case for those you have chosen to cut off? What would it look like to re-establish some of those old connections? What small steps could be taken today to make those connection happen?
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