Arthur Pink, September, 1949
When man fell, sin disjointed the balance and moral poise of his being; and consequently, he is now prone to go to extremes. The depravity of human nature evinces itself in many ways, causing us to act tardily, when speed is called for — and to rush recklessly ahead, when consideration and circumspection are required. Some are constitutionally impulsive and rash, and need to be reminded of the old adage, "Look before you leap"; others are ultra-cautious, and require to be told that one may look so long — yet he may never leap at all. Some are naturally sluggish and indolent, and have to be prodded into activity; others are so vigorous and zealous as to need a brake on their energies.
But spiritually speaking, all are by nature ready unto sin: "Their feet run to evil" (Isa 59:7), they "make haste to shed blood" (Proverbs 1:16; Rom 3:15). But unto that which is good, they are averse — hating God (John 15:23), they abhor holiness. We have to be divinely drawn — before we come to Christ; powerfully wrought upon by the Spirit — before we "flee from the wrath to come."
Here are seven things where hurry is called for:
1. To hearken unto God. "Let every man be swift to
hear, and slow to speak" (Jam 1:19). Nature itself inculcates that lesson,
for we hear before we learn to talk. Moreover, the Creator has given us two
ears, but only one tongue — and that, behind two rows of teeth; and they,
protected by the lips. Alas, most of us have but one ear, yet half a dozen
tongues. God has spoken, and it becomes us to hearken to what He says. His
Word is not for our amusement, but instruction and submission; and
woe be unto us if we disregard the same. Nowhere but in the Holy Scriptures
can we learn . . .
the true source of our being,
the purpose for which we are made,
the destiny awaiting us,
and how to be saved.
Then how attentive we should be to its counsels, admonitions, and warnings! God also speaks loudly to us by His providences, and we are greatly the losers if we ignore its messages. He speaks also through our consciences, and to slight His voice is perilous. "Today if you will hear his voice, Harden not your heart" (Psalm 95:7-8). None are nearer destruction — than those who promise themselves a long time in sin.
2. To escape the eternal burnings. God's Word to the careless is, "Hasten, escape there" (Gen 19:22). That injunction was originally given to Lot by a divine messenger when the cities of the plain were on the point of being destroyed by fire and brimstone from Heaven. The matter was an urgent one, calling for prompt action — his very life was in imminent danger, and therefore, to procrastinate would be madness. In precisely the same situation were his sons-in-law, and to them he said, "Up, get out of this place; for the Lord will destroy this city!" (Gen 19:14). Instead of appreciating the warning and responding promptly, we are told, "But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law."
Such is the case with the vast majority of our fellows: beneath the condemnation of a holy God, with their faces hell-ward, yet so bewitched by sin as to be unconcerned about their peril. Even if momentarily aroused, as Felix was when Paul preached of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, yet — like that Roman governor — they avoid the issue and postpone the decision until "a more convenient season" (Act 24:25).
3. To respond to the call of Christ, who says, "Make haste, and come down" (Luke 19:5). Descend from your perch of self-love and self-esteem — and take your place in the dust as a self-condemned sinner. Climb down from the branch of self-righteousness — and present yourself before Me as a penitent pauper. Linger not, for "now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2). You need no other warrant than the free offer of the Gospel: "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Timothy 1:15); and He will save you this very moment — even though you are the chief of sinners — if you surrender to His lordship, and cast yourself upon His grace as a drowning man upon a floating spar. Then flee "for refuge" unto Him, and "lay hold upon the hope set before us" in the Gospel (Heb 6:18). Perform this supreme business of your soul's eternal interests with alacrity. The wings of time are flying with the utmost speed. Your day of opportunity will soon be over. Death is already on the way to seize you. Of Zaccheus we are told, "And he made haste, and came down, and received him [Christ] joyfully" (Luke 19:6). Do the same.
4. To offer unto God His dues. "You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe fruits, and of your liquors: the firstborn of your sons shall you give unto me" (Exo 22:29). The claims of God are paramount, and He requires that they be recognized by us. But there is something which takes precedence of bringing to God our substance: first and foremost is His clamant call, "My son, give me your heart" (Proverbs 23:26). We fully agree with Thomas Scott (1747-1821): "The Law demands love to God with the whole heart and soul — but sin and the world have possession of it in fallen creatures. The express design of the Gospel is to bring us — by faith and repentance — to give our hearts to the Savior, and to God through Him, that He may there set up His kingdom, write His Law, and reign the undisputed Lord of all our affections! And unless this call is obeyed, all else will be decidedly rejected." Nothing else that we offer Him will be accepted — until we give Him our hearts — no, not even our worship. Then delay not, but "yield yourselves unto the Lord" (2 Chronicles 30:8).
5. To render obedience unto God. Thereby we supply proof that we have given our hearts unto the Lord: Jesus said, "If a man loves me — he will keep my words" (John 14:23). "I made haste, and delayed not to keep your commandments" (Psalm 119:60). This readiness in the work of obedience is doubly expressed — affirmatively and negatively. Such doubling of terms is used for the purpose of emphasis, as in "I shall not die, but live" (Psalm 118:17). It signifies, "I hesitated not a moment."
Where there is only slight conviction, we stand debating the matter, and resort to reasoning instead of acting. When the path of duty is clear, it should be instantly followed: "Immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood" (Gal 1:16). Let no time be lost between forming and performing a good resolution. Tardiness in obedience is a sure sign that the heart has grown cold. Let promptness mark every response to your apprehension of God's will. By yielding to the Spirit's motions, work which is hard today, becomes easy tomorrow. "I will run the way of your commandments, when you shall enlarge my heart" (Psalm 119:32). David was not content simply to walk in the path of obedience, but desired to run therein; but he realized that in order thereto, the Lord must deepen His work of grace in him.
Enlargement of heart, consists of its being freed from the straits of legality, fear, unbelief, and the things which sap our strength and dampen our joy in God's service. If we are sincere in praying thus, we shall diligently seek to avoid those things which cramp the heart — such as ignorance, love of the world, pride, etc. The language of Psalm 119:60 expresses the longing of one whose heart has been won by Christ and is in fellowship with Him. It is the urge of love, which desires to follow Him more closely and swiftly. "Running" expresses the readiness and cheerfulness of our obedience, its vigor and earnestness. When the affections are aroused and eagerly set upon things, our actions are swift and full of delight. Alas, how many need to bewail their lameness.
6. To avoid temptation. All inducements unto evil should be feared and shunned like a deadly plague! To trifle with that which invites unto sin — is to play with fire. How emphatic is the repetition in the prohibition, "Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away" (Proverbs 4:14-15). There is still that in the Christian which responds to evil from without; and therefore, it is the part of wisdom to give it a wide berth, so far as that lies in our power. To pray unto God, "Lead me not into temptation" (Mat 6:13; Luke 11:4), and then deliberately — to enter those places where such abounds — is to mock Him. Even the minister of the Gospel is exhorted, "But you, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness," etc. (1 Timothy 6:11). And again, "Flee also youthful lusts" (2 Timothy 2:22). Earnestly seek grace to emulate Joseph, who, when he was solicited by Potiphar's wife, "fled" the temptress (Gen 39:13).
7. To fly to God for protection. "Deliver me, O Lord, from my enemies: I flee unto you to hide me" (Psalm 143:9). Our foes are both numerous and powerful; and we can neither evade, nor vanquish them: but God will protect us if we take shelter in Him. When sorely beset by those who seek to destroy our spiritual life, we should — as the man-slayer fled to the city of refuge — seek asylum in God by prayer, in faith and hope of deliverance. Such flight is not cowardice, but wisdom; and the sooner we betake ourselves to God, the better for us.
In verse 7, David had prayed, "Hear me speedily, O Lord"; now he declares, "I flee unto you to hide me." A sense of urgency possessed him. Jacob fled to Laban, Saul to the witch, and Asa to the physicians; but the hard-pressed believer, flees unto his God. "The name of the Lord is a strong tower: the righteous runs into it, and is safe" (Proverbs 18:10). So the saints, of all generations, have proved.