Imagine surviving a shipwreck in a remote region of the South Pacific. You come ashore on a tiny island and discover that you are the only survivor. A suitcase washes up on the beach, and inside you find a Bible. What do you think: Could you “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18) in isolation from other Christians, or for that matter, in isolation from other human beings?
Alone on an island, you could learn a lot about God through His written Word, and your love for Him could flourish. But there are things about yourself in relation to God that you might not learn very well.
The Apostle Paul tells us that the works of the flesh include “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, . . . and things like these” (Gal. 5:20–21). In contrast, “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. . . . Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (vv. 22–23). If there’s no one else around, there will be no jealousy, enmity, rivalries, dissensions, or envy. There will also be no one to try your patience and no one to draw out kindness or gentleness.