Jump Start # 2687
Proverbs 24:16 “For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again, but the wicked stumble in time of calamity.”
I used this passage in a funeral recently. It fit so well. The one who died had a heart of gold. Kind. Helpful. Sweet smile. But, he stumbled and he stumbled often. Unlike an apostate who falls away and gives up, this man kept coming back. It seemed that each time he came back, he came back stronger and better. And, finally, life ran out of him. He died much too young, likely from some of the choices when he was stumbling. But he kept rising again.
This verse brings some wonderful thoughts for us to see:
First, God is patient with us. That is such a wonderful, wonderful blessing and characteristic of God. Sometimes we are not very patient. And our impatience is demonstrated with having a short fuse and a few choice words that shouldn’t be said. Not God. He’s patient. Seven times the one in the passage fell. But he kept getting up. This mirrors the Lord’s teaching about forgiveness. In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus talked about one who sins against you seven times a day and returns seven times saying, “I repent.” He fell and he kept rising.
Second, we can focus on the falling or on the rising back up. Why did he fall? Why wasn’t he careful? Why did he continue to fall? On and on our questions rise. And, for some, we just can’t move past the fact that he fell seven times. Roger Maris, in 1961, broke Babe Ruth’s all time record of most homeruns in a season. The Babe hit 60 homeruns in 1927. For 34 years that record remained untouchable. There was one difference in 1961 when Maris hit 61 homers. The season was longer in 1961. Maris played more games in a season than Babe Ruth did. Had Ruth played the same number of games, he might have hit more than 60. So, because of that, the record books always put an asterisk by Maris’ name. He hit more homeruns, but he played more games.
Sometimes we put an asterisk by people’s names in our minds. “Oh, that’s the guy that cheated on his wife years ago,” we say. Never forgetting what he did. “She’s the one who got fired from her job.” That asterisk appears. The teen who was arrested, decades later will be known for that because we keep an asterisk there. God doesn’t keep an asterisk by your name! He doesn’t say, “that’s the one that always gossips.” Or, “He’s the one that has trouble with drinking.” No, forgiveness does not come with an asterisk.
We can concentrate upon the falling or the rising up again.
Third, sometimes we don’t allow a person to rise up again. We give up on them, even though they haven’t given up. They are trying. They are struggling. They want to rise up, but our words, indifference to them and turning our backs on them holds them down. They’d like to rise, but we won’t offer them a hand. We won’t pull them up. And, the reason is, we think that they will just fall again. One and done tends to be our thinking. Give a guy one chance, and when he’s messed that up, we are done with him. Sure glad God’s not that way. We tend to stand outside the house with the prodigal’s older brother more than we find ourselves running down the path to huge the prodigal. It’s easier to be judgmental than it is to forgive.
Fourth, there was something in this person who fell seven times to rise up again. He knew things could be better. He knew that falling down wasn’t the place he was supposed to be. He was supposed to be standing up. He knew. Likely, he had been taught. And, when people are falling and making bad choices, we can forget that there are deep lessons within them that will help them. Often, the teaching one does may seem to not be received and even wasted, but things tend to be remembered and come to the surface, especially when one is falling apart. The man in our passage never gave up. He kept rising.
Finally, some of us have not fallen seven times. Be thankful for that. Yet, don’t view yourself better than the guy who has fallen seven times. We are all in this together and some are stronger than others. We need each other and we all need the grace of Jesus. Some carry battle scars from intense spiritual wars. They have fought for the truth. They have battled those who want to tear down the standard of God. Others, have scars from battles with temptation. The pull was strong, but they continued to rise to the top. But, others of us carry few scars. We have fought against false teachers. We haven’t battled to keep things true. Our journey has been pleasant. Help those old warriors of truth. Be an encouragement to all.
He falls…but he gets back up. Sounds like a Rocky movie. Better yet, sounds like someone who truly loves the Lord and really wants to go to Heaven. He may be down, but he’s not out. Give him a chance, and he’ll struggle back to his feet and go another round.
God bless such hearts that want to do right.