Proverbs 18

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire;
    he breaks out against all sound judgment.
A fool takes no pleasure in understanding,
    but only in expressing his opinion.
When wickedness comes, contempt comes also,
    and with dishonor comes disgrace.
The words of a man's mouth are deep waters;
    the fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook.
It is not good to be partial to the wicked
    or to deprive the righteous of justice.
A fool's lips walk into a fight,
    and his mouth invites a beating.
A fool's mouth is his ruin,
    and his lips are a snare to his soul.
The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels;
    they go down into the inner parts of the body.
Whoever is slack in his work
    is a brother to him who destroys.
10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower;
    the righteous man runs into it and is safe.
11 A rich man's wealth is his strong city,
    and like a high wall in his imagination.
12 Before destruction a man's heart is haughty,
    but humility comes before honor.
13 If one gives an answer before he hears,
    it is his folly and shame.
14 A man's spirit will endure sickness,
    but a crushed spirit who can bear?
15 An intelligent heart acquires knowledge,
    and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.
16 A man's gift makes room for him
    and brings him before the great.
17 The one who states his case first seems right,
    until the other comes and examines him.
18 The lot puts an end to quarrels
    and decides between powerful contenders.
19 A brother offended is more unyielding than a strong city,
    and quarreling is like the bars of a castle.
20 From the fruit of a man's mouth his stomach is satisfied;
    he is satisfied by the yield of his lips.
21 Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
    and those who love it will eat its fruits.
22 He who finds a wife finds a good thing
    and obtains favor from the Lord.
23 The poor use entreaties,
    but the rich answer roughly.
24 A man of many companions may come to ruin,
    but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

If I produced a movie about the year 2020, I think I might call it “The Year of Isolation.” In an attempt to defeat the dreaded coronavirus, we’ve hibernated in our homes. We’ve covered expression-filled faces with masks. And we’ve kept our dearest people at a 6-foot distance. Then, we added a series of devastating wildfires to the list of traumas we’re enduring and shuttered our homes and businesses in an attempt to escape hazardous air. Yes, we were forced into isolation in early 2020, but even when we were given the choice to start emerging from the safe cocoon of our homes this past summer — and even as the smoke began to lift — many of us chose to stay put. Isolation has its benefits. Life lived alone is slower and simpler. But it is lonely and sometimes extremely dangerous, for life lived alone can often bring dark thoughts and poor decisions. Today, in Proverbs 18:1, we see how one who is separated from the input of others can easily turn from wisdom to selfish and foolish pursuits.

Pause: Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment (vs. 1).

Ponder: When have I cut off wise people from speaking into my life? What was the result? When have I chosen to step out of my comfort zone and include other people in the details of my life? What was the result? How am I going to intentionally connect with others and not live in isolation this fall?

Pray: Lord, the year 2020 continues to bring invitations for isolation. I don’t want to seek the easiest route, but instead I want to live in community with others. May I not “break out against all sound judgment” but live with my ears open and heart soft to Your wisdom expressed through others. You have designed us to do life together, and I praise you for the beautiful plan that we would walk together in this world. Grant us creativity even on the days we’re asked to live physically apart from others. May my sisters and I live connected through the various ways you’ve allowed communication to develop for such a time as this. 

P.S. Consider joining your UFC sisters this October for Believing God in Unwanted Circumstances, a look at the lives of four Old Testament women — Hagar, Rahab, Deborah, and Hannah. This weekly time together, which begins October 1, will mix time both alone and with others in God’s Word. Learn more and sign up here.

— Jaime Sherman