As a Pastor for the last 15+ years, I have had the privilege to interact with lots of believers. Over the years, I’ve seen patterns of behavior play out time and time again. This Proverb describes one of them exactly.
You’ll see folks, once interested in sharing their life with other believers in a community of other Christians disappear. They pull back from their believing friends and involvement with other Christians, many times giving work, a new business venture or stress as an excuse. Sometimes they will even say that God is drawing them to Himself, giving the illusion of spirituality. But in reality, they are separating themselves. The reasons may sound noble, but in fact are quite selfish. They are pulling back to avoid the discomfort of interaction with others.
In our culture, we’ve been taught that all discomfort or “awkwardness” is to be avoided at ALL costs. When things get a tad uncomfortable, when people step on your toes or make you feel awkward, most of us retreat. When people offend you or say the wrong thing, we run. In doing so we miss the wisdom of God! Being a part of the body of Christ is supposed to be uncomfortable. When iron sharpens iron, sparks fly! It’s in those moments where we have the opportunity to press into the heart of God and actually grow in love towards one another, overlooking petty disagreements and offenses.
Part of the reason many Christians are so immature is because they avoid such moments like the plague! It’s difficult to grow in love unless you encounter those who are unlovely. Sadly, those that separate themselves will have no opportunity to do so.
Separating others from the awesome that is you is selfish, no matter what you call it.