When I was a child, one of my favorite songs was the kid’s song “Be Strong and Courageous” based on Joshua 1:9, “Haven’t I commanded you: be strong and courageous? Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
Manhood is often measured by strength (external and internal) and courage. I remember a conversation at school when I was little, where two boys at my lunch table were arguing whose father was better at operating a backhoe (not making that up). The argument quickly devolved into who’s dad was stronger. Strength and courage are traits we admire from the earliest times in life. Running away, on the other hand, is often seen as cowardice.
And yet, as the old saying goes, it is good to know when to “walk away”. Common wisdom lets us know that it can be okay to walk away from fights that are senseless or fights that are caused by our own pride. Fighting for a worthy cause is a good thing, but I think all of us understand that it is wise to walk away from a fight that we have no hope of winning, or when the reward is not worth the cost. For instance, if a grizzly bear ever wants to wrestle you, kindly decline … or maybe not so kindly. Sometimes, walking away makes common, practical sense.
Have you ever wondered if there are times when your spiritual walk would benefit from walking away from something? Actually, the Bible says that sometimes, walking away is not enough. Sometimes we must run away. Consider these verses:
“Flee sexual immorality!” – 1st Corinthians 6:18a
The Greek word for sexual immorality is pornia. You can guess a modern application for that word. The truth is, Scripture does NOT tell us to just be stronger or more disciplined when it comes to sexual temptation. It does not tell us to simply have better character when we are in compromising situations. It tells us to run away! It tells us to leave those situations and not put our discipline or character to the test. In instances like these, running away is the demonstration of your character. Sexual immorality is dangerous! For those who are not married, it can cause a lasting impact on future relationships. For those who are married, it can destroy your family. Don’t think that Scripture simply wants you to be tougher and endure more temptation when it comes to sexual sin. It says to RUN AWAY.
“Flee from idolatry.” – 1st Corinthians 10:14
Idolatry is anything that I put on the throne of my heart in place of God. We are particularly good at this one as modern Christians. If I were to allow my children to chart the amount of time spent on activities our family does for “God” and activities we do for worldly pursuits (e.g. sports, band, TV, etc.), which column in the chart would look like the focus of our life? How often do we walk the line of idolatry? Do we say our faith is important to our children and to those around us, and yet our routines show that God is anything but the center of our life? The Bible could not be clearer. We are to RUN AWAY from idolatry. I encourage you today to put aside anything that has a habit of coming between you and God. This isn’t to say you need to get rid of hobbies … unless that hobby has become an idol. Even if that hobby is otherwise a good thing, if it usurps God’s place, remove it! Safeguard God’s status as center of your life and Lord of your heart.
“10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs. 11But you, man of God, flee from these things.” – 1st Timothy 6:10-11a
Money is NOT the root of evil, as many commonly misquote. The LOVE of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Having material possessions is not a bad thing. Letting a desire for material possessions rule over your heart … that is a bad thing. It’s sin.
The Bible teaches us that it is not always cowardly to run away. While God wants me to be strong and courageous in many areas of life, when it comes to sin, true strength and courage is running away. We run away because sin is dangerous. It is a battle we are called to not engage in, because it can damage our lives in ways a grizzly bear never could. Don’t toe the line of sin. Run away from things that might compromise your integrity and your fellowship with God. God doesn’t want me to get as close to crossing the line as I can to see how “strong” I really am. God wants me to flee.
There is no admiration or honor in toeing the line of unrighteousness. There is no commendation in fitting as many other things into my life as I can and forgetting to make God the center of my life. Get sin out of your life so you can be the follower, leader, and servant of Christ that God wants you to be. Sin is a destructive adversary that will ruin everything you hold dear. It doesn’t belong anywhere near us. Run from it and pursue God instead.
“Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” – 2nd Timothy 2:22