If Thou Forbear Prov. 24: 10-12 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
Many years ago, I quoted Prov 24:10-12 as my outgoing message on my answering machine. A lady in our church called to leave me a message and heard the verses. She knew a fellow in her neighborhood who had a terminal illness. In a way, he was “drawn unto death and ready to be slain.” She became so burdened after hearing these verses that, when we spoke, she asked me if I would go with her and her husband to see their neighbor and tell him about Jesus. He was saved that evening. Years later, his wife, too, was saved and today they are both with the Lord in heaven.
We know that the lost are among those who are drawn unto death and ready to be slain. They are dead in trespasses and sins. When they die without Christ they will be in hell and, eventually, in the lake of fire. We must tell them about Jesus when we are prompted by the Lord and led by the Spirit to do so.
Why do we forbear? We forbear to tell them because of:
Weariness – Prov 24:10 – “if thou faint.” See Gal 6:9. You were more zealous for souls in years past. But, perhaps, you haven’t seen much fruit and so you just became weary in well doing and fainted. Well, rekindle your zeal and get back at it. The word of God does not return void and there are still people that the Lord wants you to reach with the gospel.
Adversity – Prov 24:10 – ‘in the day of adversity.” We have adversity from the devil in this work of telling others about Jesus [1 Pet 5:8]. And we have adversity from those who don’t want to hear the gospel [Acts 17:4-8; 2 Thes 1:4-6]. Some people give up on trying to tell others about Jesus after they have had some adversity. Just remember that persecution and tribulation are part of the Christian life. And by God’s grace you can handle it.
Weakness – Prov 24:10 – “strength is small.” Fortunately, when it comes to working for the Lord we have the strength of the Lord [Eph 6:10-18]. We have his armor to protect us against spiritual wickedness and the adversary. Part of that armor includes having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel. In other words, we must be prepared to tell others about Jesus. That preparation provides us with strength from his wisdom and knowledge [Prov 24:5]. Prepare by knowing what to say. Prepare by wisdom in dealing with others [Prov 11:30; Matt 10:16].
Excuses – Prov 24:12 – “If thou sayest, Behold we knew it not.” That’s an unacceptable excuse to the Lord because he ponders the heart and keeps the soul. He knows that when he has set up an opportunity and prompted us to go, any excuse is a lame one. Nevertheless, we can think of quite a few excuses not to tell them. What excuse do you use?
Distractions – Prov 24:12 – “shall not he render to every man according to his works?” God has given us work to do that includes preaching the gospel to others. The armor includes “feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” Isn’t the armor for us? Acts 1:8 says that we “receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon” us, and that we “shall be witnesses unto” Jesus. Hasn’t the Holy Spirit come upon us? 1 Cor 3:11-14 describes the work of building the temple of God on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Is there not a reward for those by whom the Lord adds souls to the temple? See 1 Thes 2:19. We forbear because we have become distracted from the work that God wants us to do. Paul didn’t let life distract him Rom 10:1-4; 9:1-3. He let them beat him and he didn’t stop.
Conclusion: why do you forbear? Have you fainted and grown weary in well doing? Has the day of adversity caused you to quit? Are you without the Lord’s strength and the strength of knowledge and wisdom? Are you just good at making excuses? Have you become distracted by all you have to do? Whatever the reason, sort it out with God and make the changes to get on track with the Lord so that if he desires to use you to tell others about him, you will go.