It was a nice summer evening and I was weed whacking. Everything was going well until suddenly I was surrounded by a cloud of angry bees that started to attack. I dropped the weed whacker and started to run hitting at the little attackers as I went, but it was too late they had already entered my clothing and were stinging my body. What could I do? I had to get the bees out, so I started to throw off clothes. To this day, I laugh at thinking back to what must have been an unusual sight for the neighborhood. A random man frantically running and swatting himself leaving a trail of clothes behind. Why bring this story up? I think it offers a great picture for how the Bible encourages us to deal with temptation in our lives.
The word flee means, “To run away from danger or evil or to hurry toward a place of security”. Usually when this word is used in the Bible and outside it is in relationship to people running for their lives. It is a picture of pure desperation; a willingness to do anything to make it out of some place or situation alive. This can mean many kinds of radical action. We see an example of this in the story of Joseph. His master’s wife had decided he was attractive and she wanted him to sleep with her. “Slthough she spoke to Joseph day after day, he refused to go to bed with her. Now one day he went into the house to do his work, and none of the household servants were there. She grabbed him by his garment and said, ‘Sleep with me!’ But leaving his garment in her hand, he escaped and ran outside” (Genesis 39:10-12). In this case, avoiding the temptation of sin required Joseph physically run away.
Other times, when the Bible encourages fleeing, it might not speak of physically running, but it does talk of radical action. “Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry” (1 Cor. 10:14). What does it mean to flee idolatry? The Bible defines idolatry as anything that we seek completion or satisfaction in outside Christ alone. So fleeing would consist of something different depending on what you have let become your god. It could mean not doing something, going somewhere, thinking on something, participating in something, loving something (the list is endless). The point of fleeing is to do whatever it takes to break free of, avoid worshiping, looking for satisfaction in, or being complete in anything other than God.
Finally, we are encouraged to flee the passions of youth (2 Tim. 2:22; 1 Cor. 6:18). These passion are sexual desire (outside God’s good purpose), anger, PRIDE, selfishness and self-centeredness, etc. Fleeing these would involve abiding in Christ and avoiding that which builds or feeds these passions. How do we flee these? The answer is found in the verse stated above, “Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” None of this can be done outside Christ, so then when we flee the flesh we should run to Christ to hide and abide in him.
If I heeded the advice given me in scripture, and if I treated temptation similar to those bees, then I would find victory in God’s power. That kind of radical action, that willingness to do everything and anything to be free from an attack, is exactly what I think the Bible is talking about when it encourages us to run like the wind. Yes, my battle with the bees is a funny little story, but it also is an awesome example of How God calls us to live.