Do Not Isolate Yourself
IN MOST situations isolation is unnatural. Persistent isolation is unchristian. Though complete in himself and not needing companionship, Jehovah God saw fit to surround himself with myriads of spirit sons. (Job 38:4-7; Dan. 7:10) This was an active expression of his love. Moved by the same love, he later produced an earthly son, Adam. A marvelously designed ability to communicate was built into both heavenly and earthly sons. (1 Cor. 13:1) God did not bring forth these intelligent beings merely to receive from them, but, rather, to give. He found delight in such sons, and they were pleased to be with him and with one another.—Compare Proverbs 8:30, 31.
The Most High also decided that it would not be good for Adam to continue being alone and, therefore, provided a partner for him. (Gen. 2:18) Fulfillment of Jehovah’s command for the first pair to fill the earth was to bring into being an earth-wide, communicating family of humankind. (Gen. 1:28) How clear it is that humans were not intended to suffer from the ill effects of isolation!
Little wonder, then, that most Bible references to forms of isolation relate to negative aspects. (Ps. 25:16; 102:7) Cain’s banishment for the murder of his brother was an isolating of him from the rest of the human family. He viewed this as a punishment, something difficult to bear.—Gen. 4:11-14.
But what can a person do who feels alone, unloved or unwanted? Rather than pitying himself, waiting for others to do something, expecting to receive, he should take the initiative in actively expressing love for others in imitation of God and Christ. By isolating himself, whether intentionally or unintentionally, an individual acts contrary to the divine purpose for mankind. No wonder that isolation brings problems! So the remedy is in doing what the Creator had in mind for us. He desired that we enjoy companionship with fellow humans. One formerly lonely woman came to appreciate this point. She said: ‘It dawned on me at last. So I got on my feet and stopped thinking about myself and started to work hard. I’ve been working hard ever since.’
What can we learn from this experience? A person does not have to be lonely. There is something positive that he can do about it. He can practice basic Christianity. After all, can an individual be a Christian and an isolationist at the same time? No, for loving one’s neighbor requires the doing of good to one’s fellowman, being active in imitating the Creator. (Matt. 22:37-39; 7:12) And merciful giving to needy persons brings joy. Such giving banishes the unhappiness that often characterizes a lonely life.
Of course, it takes effort to become active in sharing with others, not allowing oneself to become discouraged because of feeling inadequate. Since it is not easy to overcome loneliness, we do well to avoid becoming a victim of this malady. Hence, even though others may disappoint us, we need to guard against drawing away from people. The Bible says: “No one of us lives . . . for himself alone.” (Rom. 14:7, The New English Bible) Once a person isolates himself, he is in danger of thinking unwisely, even foolishly, to his injury. A Bible proverb expresses it in this way: “One isolating himself will seek his own selfish longing; against all practical wisdom he will break forth.”—Prov. 18:1.
Take the case of a young wife who became addicted to watching late-night pornographic movies on television. Subjected to this unwholesome influence, she soon stopped praying, reading the Scriptures and attending Christian meetings. Soon she felt that her husband was inadequate and began pitying herself. She embarked on a course that months before she would have quickly rejected as foolishness. Drawn out by her wrong desires, she abandoned her husband and small daughter to take up life with another man. Did she really find happiness? No. She later admitted to a friend that her new male associate had been beating her and that she was miserable without her child. This woman had hurt herself, her husband, her child and her fellow Christians and had brought great reproach on the Creator—all of this because of isolating herself.
Isolation Is Unchristian
Isolation really is unchristian. It is divisive, puts a damper on zealous Christian works and limits communication. Cut off from others, the individual may become depressed and give in to doubts respecting trustworthy humans, even about God and the Scriptures. The disciple Jude shows that some in his day failed to appreciate that even angels hurt themselves when they abandoned association with God and faithful angels to indulge their wrong desires.—Jude 6, 8, 10, 20-22.
The whole spirit of the Bible runs counter to isolation and its undesirable results—inactivity, lack of communication and failure to express love. The Scriptures teach and stimulate positive action, using many action words to do so. We are encouraged to ‘do unto others,’ to ‘go make disciples,’ to ‘ask and it will be given to us,’ to ‘keep on knocking’ for response, to ‘love one’s neighbor,’ to ‘assemble with other Christians,’ to ‘follow the course of hospitality.’ These are all antidotes to lethargy, pitying oneself, feeling unwanted or useless. Christianity requires that a person show compassion by pitying others, making someone feel wanted and useful instead of feeling useless. When we give wholeheartedly, we can rest assured that we will receive bountifully from our heavenly Father. (Matt. 6:1-4) Giving endears one to others, dispelling feelings of loneliness.
Of course, there are times when we need our privacy. Even Jesus Christ, though busy in aiding others, made time for solitude. On hearing the news regarding the death of John the Baptizer, he went “into a lonely place for isolation.” (Matt. 14:13) For those who are usually in the company of others, isolation can be a refreshing change and can provide fine opportunity for thinking. The Son of God once said to his disciples: “‘Come, you yourselves, privately into a lonely place and rest up a bit.’ For there were many coming and going, and they had no leisure time even to eat a meal.” (Mark 6:31; 3:20) Solitude was just what they needed then.
When we spend times of solitude in purposeful meditation, we can strengthen our faith. Such meditation can serve to draw us nearer to God. It can move us to express ourselves appreciatively in prayer, thus enhancing our personal relationship with the Almighty. But such occasions are temporary. Never would we want to isolate ourselves to the extent of taking up a monastic life.—Compare John 17:15.
Truly, we have sound reasons for avoiding a life of isolation. It is harmful indeed. Isolation can adversely affect Christian activity, association and communication. Therefore, take full advantage of God’s spiritual provisions. Read his Word daily. Do not neglect prayer. Keep the mind filled with wholesome thoughts. Maintain regular association with those of like precious faith. Keep busy in the worthwhile work of teaching God’s Word, and in other ways respond to the needs of fellow humans. Sticking close to Jehovah and his Word and yielding to the influence of his spirit will “prevent you from being either inactive or unfruitful regarding the accurate knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:5-8) Do not isolate yourself.