“It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling.” (Proverbs 20:3)
Some might consider a person who backs away from confrontation a coward. The Proverbs say he is worthy of honor. You might even say it is the brave thing to do. Why not be in the same mind as the Sinless One who, “when he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly”?
“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.” —Proverbs 19:11
To hide one’s own sin from God is his shame. It’s useless, debilitating, hurtful, destructive. To confess and forsake one’s sin is the guaranteed pathway to mercy (28:13). And once you know His mercy—once you have received the abundance of grace, the eternal redemption, the complete forgiveness of Christ—you are all the more equipped, and all the more obligated, to be merciful to others. How can we justify harboring anger for others, continually recounting their sin, when God so brutally appeased His own holy wrath in order to forget ours?
“For your ways are in full view of the Lord, and he examines all your paths.” (Proverbs 5:21 NIV)
There is no place you can go, no path you can take, where God cannot see. This ought to serve as both a warning and an encouragement. Throughout my day, God sees me. Even more convicting, God is with me.
Yet if this were the only knowledge of God I had, I suppose it would mean little. If I didn’t know His holiness, the fact that He sees my sin would not terrify me. If I didn’t know His love, the fact that He sees my trouble would be of no comfort. But in all things He is perfect, He is present, He is near, He is approachable.
May we daily live in the knowledge that He is ever faithful to examine all our paths.
It’s okay to run away. It’s okay to hide. It’s okay to make yourself scarce when you know you are outmatched. It’s more than okay, it’s biblical.
”The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 22:3)
Just in case you need to hear it again, it’s right there in the book of Proverbs one more time.
”The prudent sees danger and hides himself, but the simple go on and suffer for it.” (Proverbs 27:12)
Hiding from danger may not be considered very brave, but it is wise.
Consider David. A king. A warrior. A man of valor. Armed with only a couple river rocks and a sling, he charged toward a nearly ten foot tall behemoth who was wielding a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s beam. Killed the monster in one shot. Cut off his head with his own sword. Yet he spent the next several years hiding in caves from King Saul who couldn’t hit the broad side of a castle with his spear if he wanted to.
But after Saul died, David took the kingdom. He lead his country with a strong arm. Victorious in battle again and again, he established his reign. But then his own son got a little cheeky. Stormed the castle with a couple hundred men. So David ran away again. Hiding in caves must have been kind of reminiscent to him.
But I don’t think David was a coward. I think David was wise. I think David was prudent. When David saw danger, he took cover. Not always, but when it was the right thing to do.
You and I have every reason to be brave. We’re told to…
“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might.” (Ephesians 6:10)
“Stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13)
And yet we’re also told to…
“Flee from sexual immorality.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)
“Flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:14)
“Flee youthful passions.” (2 Timothy 2:22)
There’s no need to prove yourself. Run away. Stay away. Hide. The simple go on without a care. They think they can handle themselves.
Don’t be that guy.
Better to be considered a coward and live than to die a fool.
Get wisdom; get insight; do not forget, and do not turn away from the words of my mouth. Do not forsake her, and she will keep you; love her, and she will guard you.
Solomon warns us consistently throughout the Proverbs to obtain wisdom. Though we are inclined to think of wisdom as something that must be earned over time, Solomon reveals a secret early in his writings:
- Proverbs 2:6; The LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Wisdom is a free gift available to anyone who simply asks the Lord believing He will give it to them.
- James 1:5; If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.
She will guard you
Wisdom itself—a supernatural understanding that the Lord created even before the earth (Proverbs 8:22-24)—will guard us as long as we seek shelter under her. As long as we keep ourselves humble, understanding how much we need her, knowing that only God has her and only God can give her to us, she will protect us. In essence, it is God Himself who protects us. He guides us with His wisdom, His counsel, His word. He is faithful to guard anyone who puts their trust in Him.
- Proverbs 6:20-23; My son, keep your father’s commandment, and forsake not your mother’s teaching [the wisdom God has imparted to us through our parents or any authority who has taught us]. Bind them on your heart always; tie them around your neck. When you walk, they will lead you; when you lie down, they will watch over you; and when you awake, they will talk with you. For the commandment is a lamp and the teaching a light, and the reproofs of discipline are the way of life….
- Proverbs 2:6-12; For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding; he stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his saints. Then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; discretion will watch over you, understanding will guard you, delivering you from the way of evil, from men of perverted speech….
Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, “Come up here,” than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.
Do not put yourself forward
It is better to be given the righteousness of Christ than to try to earn your own. It is better to approach the Father on the basis of the work of his Son than on the basis of the works of your flesh. It is better to humble yourself to receive His forgiveness than to exalt yourself before Him as if you don’t need it.
- Luke 18:10-14; “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
The Pharisee put himself forward in the presence of the King. The tax collector humbled himself instead. The latter was justified, the first condemned.
Or stand in the place of the great
When we humble ourselves before God, He lifts us up.
- 1 Peter 5:6-7; Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
It is better to be told, “Come up here”
When we recognize that we are not fit for heaven, He qualifies us.
- Colossians 1:11-12; May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
It is when we acknowledge our complete dependence on Him and our own inability to attain to His righteous standards that He says, “Come up here”.
- Philippians 3:4-9; Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.
“The hope of the righteous brings joy”
When you read about hope in the bible, it’s not the kind of hope that says “I hope it’s sunny today.” The hope the bible speaks of us an absolute expectation of coming good. The book of Hebrews calls it “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul” because it’s based on Jesus Christ. The faith we have in Him and what He has promised us is the “assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” The Greek word translated hope in the New Testament is “to anticipate, expectation, confidence.”
- Colossians 1:3-5; We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel
- Titus 1:1-2; Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began
- Titus 2:11-14: For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
- Titus 3:4-7; But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
- 1 Peter 1:3-5; Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Of the righteous
Hope founded on one’s own righteousness would not be hope at all but a false expectation. Let the double-minded man not suppose he will receive anything from the Lord. But those who are made to be righteous through trusting in Chirst’s death and resurrection–they have a hope sure and steadfast.
- Romans 3:19-22; Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe.
- Romans 4:4-8; Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.”
- Philippians 3:8-9; Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith
When the vanity of this life is overwhelming, when the trials and sufferings cause you to groan in anxious anticipation, let that desire for a better country where righteousness dwells bring you joy. For soon–very soon, in the twinkling of an eye–we will be with the Lord forever.
- Psalm 16:8-11; I have set the LORD always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17; Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.
- Psalm 116:15; Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his saints.