“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”?
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.
I used to dream of being famous. (Who didn’t?) Throughout my life I have wanted to be all kinds of different things–an athlete, a musician, an artist, an author, even a Pastor (different kind of famous, I guess). But here I am, the ripe old age of 31, my life half over, well passed the age I thought I would have already been a millionaire, and yet I am nothing. But I am learning to accept that.
Not really. It is hard to accept. I still want to be heard. I still want to be seen. I still want to be followed. I still want to be popular. Nope, it didn’t go away after high school. And the worst part is, I am all the more shy, apathetic, introverted, and boring today as I ever was. Kind of frustrating, actually.
But today I ran across two bible verses, both of which leapt off the page (the screen) and slapped me in the face.
The first was in Esther (when I searched the bible for “popular”):
“For Mordecai the Jew was second in rank to King Ahasuerus, and he was great among the Jews and popular with the multitude of his brothers, for he sought the welfare of his people and spoke peace to all his people.” –Esther 10:3
And the second was in Ecclesiastes (when I searched for “quiet”):
“There was a little city with few men in it, and a great king came against it and besieged it, building great siegeworks against it. But there was found in it a poor, wise man, and he by his wisdom delivered the city. Yet no one remembered that poor man. But I say that wisdom is better than might, though the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard. The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” (Ecclesiastes 9:14-17)
The first verse from Esther taught me that popularity (fame) in God’s eyes is meant for those who genuinely seek the welfare of others. Something I am very poor at. When you think of the most famous and effective men and women of the bible, none of them sought the popularity itself, they sought the welfare of others.
In the second passage from Ecclesiastes, I was first drawn to verse 17: “The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools.” It would be better for me to be quiet and speak even one word of wisdom to one individual than to be the most famous of celebrities shouting at the top of my lungs like a fool. (Now the hard part: finding one person who will listen to me… and finding something wise to say to them!)
Verse 17 is what caught my attention, but the context of the passage sucked me in. Here is a poor man, a wise man, who somehow delivers his entire city by his wisdom. Yet no one remembered him. He didn’t get popular like Mordecai did in the book of Esther. He sought other’s welfare too, but no one cared. Even though his wisdom was so great, it did not afford him popularity. In fact, “the poor man’s wisdom is despised and his words are not heard.”
Popularity is so overrated. (That’s my excuse anyway).
So hopefully I’m done trying to make a name for myself (says the man typing all of this on to a public blog). Hopefully I will move forward being more concerned about the things of the Lord and how I can best serve him in quietness and seek the welfare of others than about how I can use “my talents” to garnish a following.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go post a link to this article on Facebook so all my friends can read it. I wonder how many “likes” I will get?
“[Hezekiah] trusted in the LORD, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the LORD. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the LORD commanded Moses.” (2 Kings 18:5-6)
We esteem King Solomon for having asked the Lord for wisdom instead of money and power–and rightfully so! God Himself esteemed Solomon and honored him for His request! We esteem Solomon, and follow in his footsteps, asking the Lord for wisdom, knowing full-well that without the Lord, we are utterly foolish.
But Hezekiah shows us something better than wisdom. No; he shows us the culmination of all wisdom: he trusted in the Lord and held fast to Him. He didn’t depart from following God–something to which Solomon could not lay claim.
I will continue beg the Lord for His wisdom, but I think I’ve found a better request than Solomon’s–Lord, “increase my faith!” (Luke 17:5)
Help me to trust in You!
If you are seeking God for direction, remember that He is much more interested in the conduct of your life than the course that you take. He will be with you wherever you go. Whatever school you choose to go to, the questions is: what kind of student will you be? Whichever girl or guy you marry, what kind of spouse will you be? Whichever career you pursue, what kind of employee will you be? Yes He can, and will, direct your path—but much more important, He wants to direct your heart.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”
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….