Sermon Audio & Review
Pastor Tim Potter
- Category: The Book of Ecclesiastes
- July 28, 2019
Avoiding Self-Inflicted Loneliness.
The next section of Ecclesiastes we will preach illustrates the importance of companionship where isolation reigns.
God has never been alone, but forever enjoys fellowship within the Trinity. He created a host of angels to worship and serve Him together. Adam and Eve were given each other, and they were not left to themselves: God walked with them. Even after they sinned, He pursued them. God gave us a desire to be with other people as part of His image in us. Wanting to isolate ourselves is not healthy. Jesus was born into a family and grew up with people (Luke 2:52). He spent his whole life in relationship with others (Matthew 26:36-41).
The New Testament exhorts us to share our happiness and hurt together (Romans 12:15). We are to confess our failures to one another (James 5:16). There are hundreds more "one another" commands. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 13, and Ephesians 4:11-16 for a few.)
Depressed people want to be alone, but that only makes things worse. Children especially suffer when they are left alone. God made us to be with other people. Life is too complicated for anyone to figure out alone; children especially need somebody to be with them. They resort to excessive screen time as an attempt to connect with others, but that is still done alone. Christians are to pray together, study God's Word together, and meet together more regularly as time goes on (Acts 4:31-33, 2 Timothy 4:1-5, Hebrews 10:23-25). If we are not careful, isolation will cause our lives to look like the Israelites' in the last verse of Judges: "everyone did what was right in his own eyes."
Human isolation is a human problem. The man described in Ecclesiastes 4:8 has no family because he is a workaholic and greedy. He has no time to consider others (verse 9) and so has pushed them away. His pursuit of riches leaves him with no time even to enjoy his accomplishments.
Walter Kaiser said, "Escape from competition may be a temporary solution, because then one has to cope with loneliness." Neither is a place a believer should live for long. Living in isolation is spiritually unwise. "The purposeful life is lived among, with, and in constant consideration of others."
Solomon highlights 3 benefits in verses 10-12: assistance, comfort, and defense.
1 Corinthians 7:32 reminds us that singleness does not mean isolation, but is actually an opportunity for togetherness! Every believer has an eternal purpose. We are saved to be used together with the body of Christ in service. Our society is becoming more individualistic, but temporary pursuits will never ultimately satisfy.
Iain Provan writes,
"Everything depends, of course, on what our goals are. Where are we going? Much of our Western culture answers this question individualistically rather than communally, whether in secular terms (I'm headed for the fulfillment of my dreams) or in religious terms (I'm headed for heaven). The two sets of goals are in practice often perceived to be perfectly compatible, allowing significant participation in the American dream while still keeping alive the hope of an eternal welcome.
"The Bible will have none of this. God's Word does teach us that individuals are precious to Him, and it is from this wellspring that our modern individualism arises. Yet the Bible does not understand this preciousness as somehow residing within the human frame itself, which is simply dust and grass, but only in the relatedness of the human being to God who made him/her and bestowed His image upon them. The individual in relationship to God is at the same time inseparable biblically from those other individuals who as creatures are also in relationship to God. This is why biblically it is impossible to drive a wedge between being in right relationship with God and being in right relationship to our neighbors. The one involves the other."
Even religious individualism in the end has little to do with the Bible. Everybody who is somebody in Christ needs another-body to walk with.
- Resolve never to be focused on "me" at the expense of "we."
- Who are you walking through life with? In what ways have you isolated yourself? What is one way you can start reaching out this week?