Read Proverbs 24
I remember when the show American Idol first aired. Everyone was talking about it; you didn’t want to miss an episode. I remember watching it with my mom and she would complain about how mean Simon Cowell was to all of the contestants. I would always laugh and tell her that even though he was mean, he was right much of the time.
In today’s Proverb Solomon gets intense and tells us exactly how it is. He didn’t hold any punches back in this particular chapter.
If you fall to pieces in a crisis,
there wasn’t much to you in the first place.
Rescue the perishing;
don’t hesitate to step in and help.
If you say, “Hey, that’s none of my business,”
will that get you off the hook?
Someone is watching you closely, you know—
Someone not impressed with weak excuses.
I was taken aback at how forward those verses are! This is from the Message translation, which is usually more flowery and easy for us to understand today. So, I looked it up in the English Standard Version (ESV) and it’s just as intense:
If you faint in the day of adversity,
your strength is small.
Rescue those who are being taken away to death;
hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.
If 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?
I love that middle verse. I have it written down and I look at it often. I love the idea of freeing those who are enslaved, rescuing those who are in danger, teaching others a better way of living, and changing the world. Those are all amazing things! But somewhere along the way I forgot about the verses surrounding it.
When looking at an overwhelming task or a huge sin problem, it’s easy to feel insignificant and stop forward progress. It’s easy to fall to pieces, as the Message version says, in the face of things like world hunger, human trafficking, murder, abuse, violence, hurting people, hatred, corruption, and all the other sin happening around the world. But that’s not who God has called us to be. While we may faint or fall to pieces or fail or stall out, we’re not supposed to stay there. Just a few verses later Solomon says this:
No matter how many times you trip them up,
God-loyal people don’t stay down long;
Soon they’re up on their feet,
while the wicked end up flat on their faces.
You might be going through something difficult right now, and if you are, let me say that I’m sorry you’re going through this, but you can do it. You can get up. Strengthen yourself in the Lord and then keep going. You can rise because God is with you!
But I think these verses are about far more than just us, I believe that God cares about the entire world and has called each of us to do great things.
Who do you know that’s being “taken away to death”?
Do you know of anyone “stumbling toward the slaughter”?
Do you know people who are “perishing”?
Who can you step in and help?
You might think of a cause, like one of the ones I listed above, or you might have a name in mind, whatever the case, go for it. Step up. Go after that person or cause with the immense and abundant love of God. Let that passion motivate and propel you forward and, when you fall, know that you can get up. You are an overcomer. When you rise, you’ll be an encouragement to those you’re helping, inspiring them to rise too.
After all, if God is for us, who can be against us? Now, let’s live like we believe that!