Ready to Run
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.” – Psalm 1:1-2
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” – Ephesians 6:10-11
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” – James 4:7
Scripture Reading: Genesis 39
I have a special gift for making excuses, and to my shame, I’m sometimes better at making excuses, rather than simply doing what I know needs to be done.
Maybe that’s why I’m so impressed with Joseph. In spite of really rotten brothers, unfair enslavement and imprisonment, and years of immersion in an ungodly culture, Joseph lived a life of “no excuses”. Whenever the Lord opened a door for Joseph, he was ready to do right, and when Satan tried to trap him with an opportunity for evil, Joseph was ready to run.
By God’s grace, Joseph always rose to the top of the heap. In one of the Bible’s most notorious dysfunctional families, Joseph was the stand-out and his father Jacob’s favorite (Genesis 37:3-4). His dreams about his divine destiny angered his brothers and even insulted his father (Verses 5-10), but Jacob couldn’t deny that God had something planned for this boy (Verse 11).
When his enraged brothers finally sold him to Midianite traders (Genesis 37:26, 36), God’s favor turned Joseph’s slavery into a successful career, as he became the trusted caretaker of one of Egypt’s most prestigious households (Genesis 39:2-5). But temptation tends to lurk in the shadows of prosperity, and one of the greatest tests of Joseph’s character was yet to come in the advances of Potiphar’s wife (Genesis 39:7-9).
Like most temptations, Potiphar’s wife was distracting, convenient, and persistent. She followed him everywhere, waiting for a weak moment (Genesis 39:10). If Joseph had given in, he could have made endless excuses for his actions (our society certainly would have given him a pass – Proverbs 30:11-14). But rather than sugarcoat the situation, Joseph used words like “sin” and “wickedness” in Genesis 39:9 (words that don’t get enough use these days) and avoided her like the plague. And when she finally cornered him, he literally ran from her grip (Genesis 39:10-12).
Sometimes I think that we don’t run often enough. We qualify, compromise, and coexist with sin. We get all too comfortable in this world, even though we know it’s not our home (John 15:18-19, Hebrews 11:13, James 4:4).
And as for our temptations, while they may not be the stuff that movies are made of, they are no less persistent than Potiphar’s wife, and certainly no less convenient. They’re as close as the living room and the dinner table, the company you keep (Psalm 1), and the thoughts you entertain (Proverbs 4:23, Romans 12:2).
For instance, who brings out the worst in you? It’s no coincidence that you’ll come face-to-face with that person in your most frustrated, exhausted moment (Proverbs 25:28, Ephesians 4:29, 32). And if you watch TV, keep the remote well within reach, as it will take 90 seconds or less for something morally offensive to flash across the screen and pollute your mind (Romans 8:6-7, Philippians 4:8).
And what about the temptations that seem to be a part of our very makeup – the critical thoughts, the angry words, the pride, the lies, envy, and feelings of despair? They seem petty and harmless on the inside, but once they work their way to the surface, their potential for disaster is unlimited.
When sin tries to grab a hold of you, be ready to run (I Corinthians 6:18, II Timothy 2:22, I Peter 5:8, James 4:7). Run to God’s Word for the truth you need to face the persistent temptations of an immoral world (Psalm 119:11). Run to the “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” (Colossians 3:16) for strength and comfort in the face of the distractions within.
There is a time for everything under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). Know when it’s time to run. Run away from temptation, run the race that is set before you (Philippians 3:13-14, Hebrews 12:1-2), and run to the Throne for help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). And when your race is finally done, you can gladly run – all the way Home (Psalm 37:24).
Are you struggling with a temptation right now? Whether you realize it or not, the real battleground is your mind. Make a conscious, deliberate effort to fill your thoughts with scripture, prayer, and songs about your Savior. Nothing drives your Enemy away faster than a mind set on the things of God.