I just read the news that Congressional Republicans have decided to abandon plans to vote on a bill protecting unborn children capable of feeling pain. According to the report, these “pro-life” lawmakers have decided to forsake the unborn for the sake of political expediency. The going got tough, and they got going. It is the definition of what Proverbs 24:10-12 warns against:
If you are slack in the day of distress,
Your strength is limited.
Deliver those who are being taken away to death,
And those who are staggering to slaughter, Oh hold them back.
If you say, “See, we did not know this,”
Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts?
And does He not know it who keeps your soul?
And will He not render to man according to his work?
I explained the meaning of this text in my sermon last Sunday to my church. You can download it here or listen below [starting at 14:55].
But here’s the relevant excerpt:
To be “slack in the day of distress” means to back down when there is a fight. No matter how strong you are–if you back down–whatever strength you have is irrelevant. This proverb pictures a person who has the ability, the means, and the strength to take a stand for the right thing. But when the chips are down–instead of taking a stand for justice–this person flinches.
Why do people flinch when they should fight? Maybe the cost of conflict seems too high, and they don’t want to risk losing social capital or influence. Maybe they are running for office in a place where it’s not popular. Maybe they don’t like to think about controversial things and always prefer the path of least resistance. Maybe they have been so influenced by worldly thinking, that they don’t see any need to protect innocent human life anymore. They’ve completely succumbed to the logic of the culture of death. They’ve grown accustomed to the idea that some people’s lives just aren’t worth saving. Maybe it’s just plain old cowardice.
Whatever the reason, if you are this kind of person, this proverb says that no matter how able and strong you are, you are really weak if you flinch instead of fight in the face of injustice. Your strength is “limited,” which is weakness.
What good is the quarterback who outperforms every other athlete on the team at practice, but can’t complete a pass during the game? What good is the politician who campaigns saying that he is strong on national security, but won’t lead the military to fight when our enemies move against us? What good is the soldier who is highly trained, but won’t march toward the front line where the fight is? What good is the pro-life person living in proximity to the abortion mill in his city, and does nothing?
Being shy doesn’t make you a coward. Preferring peace to conflict doesn’t make you a coward. Even feeling fear doesn’t make you a coward. What makes a coward is the inability to overcome these obstacles when you are called on to do the right thing. There are many people who meet conflict fearfully, but they are still courageous because they go to the fight.
There is a quote often attributed to Martin Luther that says this,
If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the Word of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Him. Where the battle rages there the loyalty of the soldier is proved; and to be steady on all the battle front besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.