“Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise; When he closes his lips, he is counted prudent. He who separates himself seeks his own desire, He quarrels against all sound wisdom. A fool does not delight in understanding, But only in revealing his own mind. When a wicked man comes, contempt also comes, And with dishonor comes reproach.” (Proverbs 17:28-18:3)

1)  A person who isolates and separates himself from others is only concerned about himself. Nothing wrong with breaks and recharging our emotional batteries by getting away on our own but isolation can be dangerous – here is why…

2) Even a fool looks wise when they keep silent (17:28). But for a person who isolates themselves, especially when they have difficulty with  self-image or they are extremely introverted can make the mistake that their silence shows prudence and wisdom, when in fact they may simply be emotionally withdrawing and isolating themselves (18:2). Not only is this person only interested in listening to their own way of thinking (not just expressing it) (2b) but they may isolate themselves even more if they think people will challenge or disagree with their ideas.  The safe thing to do then, in their mind, is to keep on being silent (17:28) and it gives the appearance of being wise… the appearance of wisdom not the reality.

3)  Context determines meaning: I believe that Proverbs does have some elements of context that help inform the inter-relatedness of truths that may seem unrelated. The context here would suggest that a person who becomes extremely isolated from others not only “quarrels with sound wisdom” (18:1) but takes great risk in developing an attitude of contempt towards others, which is described here as the actions of the wicked (18:3). The inevitable barriers to break out from isolation and separation (physically, emotionally, relationally and spiritually) is having to deal with the barriers of dishonor and reproach…even if it is in their own mind and not the heart of the people whom they have isolated themselves.

While people can be exhausting and life can be draining and we need some time apart we have to be careful to not isolate ourselves from other believers. Hebrews reminds us of the importance of community –

“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;  and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds,  not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.” (Heb 10:23-25 NAS)

Blessing and stay connected…

Pastor Brad