There’s a scene in Finding Nemo (the children’s movie) where a large school of fish rush past the main characters, shouting “Swim away!” They know, that if any fish stays, they will be caught in the mouth of the great blue whale, gone forever. And so they rush away from the danger, shouting to warn others. They knew when it was good to run away (or in their case, swim away).
There is a negative connotation surrounding the idea of running away. We may think of fathers who abandon their wives and kids, of those who don’t stick out a job they have begun, or of kids who threaten (generally after some parental discipline) that they will run away. Remember Little Critter who packed his wagon with a box of cookies, a baseball bat and his toys?
But, there comes a time when running away is not only acceptable but good.
Joseph shows us that in Genesis 39.
Now Joseph was handsome in form and appearance. And after a time his master’s wife cast her eyes on Joseph and said, “Lie with me.” ~ Genesis 39:6-7
The devil is generally pretty wily. I suspect that “Mrs. Potiphar” was not an old lady with a wart on her nose – I’m sure that would not have been a great temptation to the young and handsome Joseph!
And as she spoke to Joseph day after day, he would not listen to her, to lie beside her or to be with her. ~ Genesis 39:10
This was not a one time temptation but a continual one! He wasn’t able to just say no and then be done. He had to keep resisting.
How then can I do this great wickedness and sin against God? ~ Genesis 39:9
We sometimes try to rationalize our sin, thinking that “no one” will know. While we may be able to keep our sin hidden from other people (unlikely though technically possible), we cannot hide from God. Joseph realized the gravity of his sin and who it would ultimately hurt: his God!
But one day, when he went into the house to do his work and none of the men of the house was there in the house, she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. ~ Genesis 39:11-12
When temptation was too much, he left his coat and ran. He didn’t try to explain himself or have a philosophical discussion. When he realized how great the temptation was, he simply (and swiftly) got out of there.
Aren’t there times in our lives when it is wise to do the same? I love this image of fleeing sin.There is a sense of urgency, the idea that something vital and valuable is at stake: our very souls. The rest of the Bible treats sin and temptation similarly:
So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. ~ 2 Tim 2:22
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. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:13
No matter what temptation, no matter the technological advances, our own struggles or personalities, God will give us an escape. He doesn’t make us bullet proof (or temptation proof). Instead, he gives a way for us to get out. He leaves us the dignity and privilege of choosing.
Choosing God’s way over own temporary pleasures
Choosing to uphold His commands over my own rationalizations.
Choosing His own righteousness to cover my own brokenness.
When the time comes, will we, like Joseph, run away from evil and into the arms of a God who loves us?