“If you falter in a time of trouble, how small is your strength! Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, “But we knew nothing about this,” does not he who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not he who guards your life know it? Will he not repay everyone according to what they have done?” –Proverbs 24:10-12 (NIV)
Wow. How many times have I fell in a time of trouble? What kind of “time of trouble” is Solomon talking about?
I’m reminded of the account of Jesus and His disciples on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus is sleeping through a storm and the disciples wake Him saying, “Don’t you care about us? We’re all going to down!” (Mark 4:35-41) After calming the storm Jesus asks them, “Where is your faith?”
Faith in times of trouble. Seems like a new lesson to be learned daily. Maybe God doesn’t give us enough strength in times of trouble so we will learn to rely on His. That’s what develops our faith and our strength to hang on through it. We all will falter in a time of trouble if we’re only relying on our own strength, but those who rely on the Lord have greater strength to stand.
Another thing that jumps at me is verse 11. We’re to rescue those who don’t have the strength. I think if we realize the “time of trouble” as a moment to stand for Christ instead of a moment to falter, our eyes will open to see what Jesus sees: There are many of us being led away to death! There are many people who need rescuing!
Again, another illustration comes to mind. I’ve been on a camping trip in which we had to hold back someone from falling into the fire pit. He was headed for pain and didn’t realize how close he was. We rescued him. Think of all the people headed for something they don’t realize or understand! So many people drunk with sin so that they don’t see what they’re headed toward! The don’t know! Sin leads to death. Sin earns death (Romans 6:23). And if we saw someone headed toward disaster, it’s our responsibility to save them! Just as we stop people from walking in the middle of a busy street if they’re not paying attention, we need to stop people from walking down the wide path to destruction because they’re not paying attention. Rescue.
Verse 12 gets louder. Those of us who believe in God have Him living within us. And if God perceives our heart and guards us, do we have any excuse to stop our ears and put on a blindfold so we won’t notice the world heading for death? We know. Now, will we do?
It reminds me of the parable of the Kingdom of Heaven. The people are divided to His right and to His left. The right receives the kingdom because of faith lived out. The left did not receive it because of a faith held back to simple belief with no action. God redeems our hearts to live out our lives for Him. Faith without works is dead (James 2:17).
The last question of the passage is the accountability question. It’s not meant to bring fear into our hearts, but to wake us up! We’re asleep! Our strength is small, our reliance is on ourselves, and death is all around us but we refuse to see it! I’m guilty. Come awake, church! Pray for open eyes and a trusting heart! And maybe, when Jesus asks us, “Where is your faith?” we can point in confidence directly to Him.