You Need Me & I Need You
Posted on July 20, 2015 by gschaywood
“Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.” Proverbs 18:1
A couple of years ago I stumbled across this verse while reading. Initially I sort of glazed over it, but then the stark, simple truth of it festered within me and I couldn’t get this proverb out of my mind. Basically, the take home point is this: Do not selfishly withdrawal in order to pursue your own interests without interference or distraction; while it may seem more productive, focused, or unfettered, the man who isolates himself to pointedly pursue his own objectives ultimately gains nothing but foolishness and its’ harvest. The flip side would be this: live in community. Do not withdrawal in seeking out your own interests, but engage in the context of your community and its needs. Bring others into your life and your decisions that you might walk in wisdom and sound judgement.
I think it’s a worthwhile pursuit to explore the different benefits and possible reasons this verse alludes to as motivation to live life in community. I think most directly, Proverbs 18 is a warning that it’s just plain foolish to go about life on your own- both for the reasons of lack of external counsel, as well as limited perspective and judgment in your approaches.
Proverbs 20:18 tells us “Make plans by seeking advice; if you wage war, obtain guidance.” Again, in 24:6, “…for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisors.”
If you want your individual plans to succeed, the way to achieve that goal is not to hunker down by yourself in isolation and turn inwardly for advice and counsel from your limited perspective, but rather to humble yourself to engage others and obtain a more sober perspective, which ultimately requires the willingness to sacrifice and modify your plans and ideas. This is the challenge for most people I believe. We don’t want to be confronted with knowing that our way is not the best way, or risk opening ourselves up to input because we feel that will put our own desires in jeopardy.
Furthermore, we all know that there is strength in numbers! One by himself not only is weak, but he has limited scope of perspective, limited vision, limited knowledge, limited ability to self-encourage, and is much more open to being destroyed by his own sin without having the benefit of others around him to hold him accountable. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 comes to mind: “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.” There are purely tangible, logistic reasons to not live in isolation in an attempt to uninterruptedly pursue your own ends: you are weak! You are defenseless and unprotected. This is true not just physically, but also spiritually. We need each other to pick us up and encourage us in our faith when we are discouraged, to call us out in our sin, and to support us in prayer.
Hebrews 10:24-25 challenges us with this: “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another- and all the more as you see the day approaching.” I need spurring. You need spurring. When one is weak, another is strong and fills in the gap. One living in isolation can only spur on and encourage himself so far- and with such limited perspective! I love the story of a man who was called “Joseph” from birth; in Acts 4, it says that the apostles gave him a new name, Barnabas, meaning “The Great Encourager”. This ordinary man with an ordinary name, once his unique and God-given gifts were brought alive, which could only happen in the context of community, was known for being so skilled at encouraging that he was actually given a new name! I wonder what huge impact each of us could have on our communities and the legacies/ identities we would find in engaging together using the gifts that each has been given.
Perhaps the most biblical backing of this idea of living in community rather than foolishly living as an island to see to it that your own needs and objectives are met is this: Christ designed us this way. We are all many different, but equally important, parts of his body. In living in community, we live by the design that he has created for us in a way that brings alive our own unique gifts and skills, providing a context for which they are all needed and used, which leaves us more fulfilled than trying to be a lack-luster one-man show. One of my very favorite passages in scripture, and one that presents this truth so beautifully, is 1 Corinthians 12. It says this:
The body is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. For we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body- whether Jews or Greeks, salve or free- and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Now the body is not made up of one part but of many… But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body…. But God has combined the members of the body and given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with is. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. (v12-14, 18-20, 24-26)
God is completely sovereign and completely good and completely wise in his design: you are not lacking any good thing or quality or attribute, because you were specifically and intentionally and lovingly created by your Father who bestowed on each of us particular skill sets and weaknesses, then combined us into a community of believers that comes together to form the body of Christ.
There is no room for boasting since everything you have been given, and you also have no right to hoard your gifts and your time to yourself, since you are a single part that belongs to a greater body in Christ. Every day in the clinic, I see people exhausting themselves trying to do life alone without support. They end up depressed, detached, and feeling unfulfilled because they are getting nowhere and are not implementing their giftings to build those around them up, but rather are isolating themselves and their natural giftings. They are often depressed, restless, and frustrated.
We need each other: we need each other for counsel, for encouragement, for gifts and abilities that we lack, for greater fulfillment in the employment of our individual giftings used for the sake of community, for rebuke, for resisting temptation, for confessing our sins, for humility, and for wisdom.
I encourage you to spend some time considering the following: In what ways, areas of your life or circumstances are you prone to isolate yourself in order to meet your own agenda? Is it in work/ productivity, pleasure/ leisure, or some other area? What lies are you allowing yourself to believe in pursuing your own ends by yourself? How does the truth of the Gospel and the design of God’s body of believers contrast that lie? What specific gifts/ skills have you been given and how can you use these for the edification of your community? What areas do you see that you are weak in and directly need strength and support from those around you?
I pray that God’s body would bring new life and new names to its members as they corporately come together and live using their gifts for each other, rather than succumbing to the inclination to isolate.
Grace and Peace,
Chelsea Batten, PA-C