Read Proverbs 24
Focus on verse 10-12
In 2007 I had the opportunity to experience what it is like to live in a community that is very nearly wiped off the map by a flash flood. We were fortunate that in our city there was no loss of life, but the majority of the businesses and hundreds of homes were severely damaged or destroyed by the flood. It was amazing to me how a community rallies together against such a common enemy and refuses to be defeated. It was not long until a few hand drawn signs that read “Never Ever Give Up!” became the slogan that inspired the residents to find the drive and energy to work day after day slogging through the smelly, slippery slime that the flood left behind in their homes and places of work. It was also amazing and tremendously encouraging when hundreds of volunteers began to show up day after day to help with the clean up. I believe that for the most part people in the community would agree that they are better people because of the flood, and that the community is stronger and wiser from going through the event.
Adverse events are typically not something we choose to enter into. They just happen and the only choice we have is whether to do our best to over come it, or to just roll over and give up. There is an interesting set of verses in todays reading that speaks to our responsibility when we encounter people in adverse circumstance. It reads as follows:
10If you faint in the day of adversity, your strength is small.
11Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
12If you say, “Behold, we did not know this.”
Does not he who weighs the heart perceive it?
Does not he who keeps watch over your soul know it,
and will he not repay man according to his work? (Proverbs 24:10-12)
I find this tremendously convicting because I believe there have been times when I have given up too soon. There have also been times when though it seems like every fiber of my being is screaming at me to quit, something within me has driven me to continue and by some miracle of grace I was able to persevere. I’ve heard it said that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I might add that it also makes you wiser and a little leery of putting yourself in a position where you may have to repeat the exercise.
Today’s reading has me rethinking that a little. Apparently I have an obligation to at least make an effort to rescue the perishing, and that though I am tempted to turn away and pretend I did not see it, this is not an option since the Lord, who sees all, and knows all, is watching. This obligation is not only for those who are in need of rescuing from physical death, but perhaps even more urgent for those who are stumbling toward eternity without God. While it is not my responsibility to attempt force the truth of God upon another person, it seems that it is my responsibility to do my best to present that truth to him or her so that they at least have the option of first refusal. If I do not, I am in effect making the decision for them by presuming that they will not accept it.
With that in mind, I would make that offer again here recognizing that it maybe possible that someone reading this may not yet understand or be aware of the love that God has for them. That God loves all people so much so that He sent Jesus Christ to live as in the form of a human being, to be fully human as well as fully God. The truth is that what Jesus did is He died on the cross to pay the penalty that we deserve, and God raised Him up from the dead so that our relationship with God could be restored through our relationship with Jesus. The truth is we no longer have to live as one stumbling towards death in bondage to sin and evil. We can live in fullness of life and freedom from all fear knowing with certainty that physical death is not the end but merely a transition into what God had planned for us from the beginning. This gift of eternal life is received by faith. By transferring our trust from trusting in ourselves to trusting in Jesus Christ alone for everything here and now and forever. It’s as simple as saying “Yes Lord” to Him.