Beit Gamaliel

The House of Gamaliel: The confluence of knowledge and faith.

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Running For Our Lives

Remember Forest Gump? What a great story about a crippled boy who finds freedom by running. Running becomes Gump’s secret weapon for coping, helping, saving lives, and more. Recently, a youth counselor admonished one of my children with sage advice that “you cannot keep running from your problems.”

I find the wisdom of today’s youth to be nearly nauseating. And yet, on the surface, this all sounds so authoritative. It is hard, if not impossible for our young people to discern truth from the multitude of idiotic statements that filter through their little brains every day.

I recall a story from the Tanakh wherein Joseph is being stalked by Potiphar’s wife. The Bible makes it clear that she pursued him day in and day out. “And though she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her or even be with her” (Gen. 39:10). It was unrelenting. And most of us can recall that on the one occasion that Joseph found himself in the home alone with her, she grabbed his cloak. Joseph took off so fast that his cloak was left behind in her hands. He served three years on prison for the crime he did not commit. But in his words, “How then could I do such a wicked thing and sin against God?” For Joseph, there was a higher road.

A few years ago I had the wonderful opportunity to teach a Bible class to ex-convicts in a half-way house. There were men between 20 and 90 in this group and all had struggled with life controlling sin that ended them in prison. Now we were working through the recovery process so that they could return to public life and out of prison. We discuss at length the struggles that each of them had. Most everyone in the room, week after week, had an addiction to alcohol, drugs, or some other co-dependency that was destructive. In trying to help these men cope, we talk about things that trigger lapses in judgement that cause these co-dependencies. I remember one older gentleman named James, now 78 years old, who had spent most of his adult life in prison. He so desperately wanted to be a good father and husband, but his addiction to alcohol was his absolute Achilles Heal. I asked James when was it that he felt the most vulnerable to drinking. Not surprisingly he said, “my old neighborhood, my old friends, and the bar on the corner where I spent most of my time.” James went on to state that when he got out of the halfway house, he would walk right by that bar as he made his way back home. I asked him this, “James, what if this one time, you went out of your way to avoid that bar? What if you walked a mile out of your way to go around so that you avoided the temptation? Is that possible?” He said that he supposed it was possible, but that he had never thought of it.

Yeshua teaches, “If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than, having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire.” At what length are we willing to go to remain pure and undefined before God?

Let me give you some sage advice. Run for your life! If you find yourself facing danger, life controlling issues, detrimental relationships, abuse, temptation to sin, RUN! RUN AS FAST AND AS FAR AS YOU CAN FROM THAT SITUATION! And in case you simply cannot accept that advice from me, then let me give you this:

  • 2 Timothy 2:22: So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart,
  • 1 Corinthians 6:18: Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.
  • 1 Timothy 6:11-12: But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:14: Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.
  • 1 Corinthians 10:13: No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
  • Psalm 143:9:  Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to you for refuge!
  • 1 Corinthians 5:11: I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one.
  • 2 John 1:7-11: For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds.

Maybe this is a semantic issue. Maybe it is just the choice of words. But even Paul encourages in 1 Corinthians 9:19 to “Run in such a way to win the prize.” Let me add my voice to his and advise you to Run For Your LIFE!

Shalom.

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