There are many pithy quotes that could apply to our topic of study today. Here are a few:
“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good
men to do nothing.”
“The appalling silence of the good people.”
“Silence is Consent.”
“Turn a blind eye.”
1. What factors could contribute to good people remaining silent, indifferent, and inactive in the face of social, military, or political upheaval?
The Bible is replete with the truth that each person has value, regardless of their earthly status. Both the Old Testament and New Testament proclaim the truth that we are to value all people.
2. Other than the obvious categories like abortion and genocide, who are some people who we tend to devalue? (Homeless, criminals, people we don’t really care for, family we know haven’t really tried to do what is right and want help, people who do drugs, etc. The list could go on and on for me.)
This is our annual “Sanctity of Life” Bible study today. The fact is all human life matters to God and, therefore, should matter to us. We will look in the Old and New Testaments. First, we’ll go to Proverbs 24:11, where we’ll explore Solomon’s challenge to his people—and to us!
A Call to Protect Life! Read Proverbs 24:11
Actually verses 10-12 go together, but as is true with most proverbs, the order of the statements can be switched around without changing the meaning.
1. What would you say is the overarching theme of this verse? (We are to try to rescue those who are being taken off to wrongful and/or immoral deaths.)
2. What differences in emphasis are presented in the first and second parts of this verse? (The first part is focused on acting for those who have no say in the matter and are victims of another person’s choices. The strong indication is that this is an unjust decision. The second part is focused on acting for those who, in either blindness or ignorance, are about to make a decision that will lead to harm and death.)
3. Notice Solomon doesn’t say “You should rescue” he says “rescue”, it is as if commanded. How does keeping this command strengthen a society? (We hear the term “We have each other’s back” used by sports teams. The same should apply in our society and especially in the Body of Believers.)
In our society perhaps the most vulnerable and in need of our protection include the unborn, down and out and the elderly.
Solomon’s challenge calls us to speak and act on behalf of all people who might be facing wrongful death. Now let’s look at verses 10 and 12, where Solomon warns against inaction.
A Warning Against Inaction! Read Proverbs 24:10, 12
In verse 10 the truth that is spoken here is doing nothing in a difficult time reveals your weak character. It didn’t cause you to be weak; it revealed that your character was already weak.
1. How can verse 10 be a measure of our spiritual health? (Solomon is clear that if we fail to act in difficult situations, then our strength is much smaller than we might have thought.)
When we are presented with an opportunity to live and speak as our faith demands, and we instead wilt, then our spiritual health may be lacking.
2. How does verse 12 connect the themes of verses 10-11? (The set of questions in verse 12 demonstrates there are consequences to ignoring verses 10-11. We will have to answer to God for ignoring the innocent and needy.)
3. What excuses might a person use to justify ignoring people in dire need or in peril? (Let the government take care of them. We give to the food bank; Downtown Mission; Salvation Army; etc. Consider Scrooge’s attitude!)
4. What does verse 12 teach us about the character of God and how He relates to humanity? (It demonstrates for us the justice of God, in that He has the right and responsibility to judge sin and the deeds of humanity. God does this not by outward appearances but by weighing our hearts. In other words God sees not just our actions but our intentions and innermost thoughts. Nothing we do or think can be hidden from God.)
See Eph. 2:8-10.
Now let’s see the example Jesus set for us when He was faced with human suffering.
An Example Set! Read Mark 10:46-49
1. How were the crippled, blind and other people with infirmities treated by the normal Jew in Jesus’ day?
2. Why were they treated as if they were somehow less of a person than “normal” people? (It was generally believed that their condition was in some way a judgment on them from God for sin in their lives.)
3. What are some reasons the people were telling the blind man to be quiet? (They didn’t want to be bothered by him; Jesus was an important person and His time was much too valuable to be bothered by a blind man; etc.)
4. What had this blind man’s life been reduced to? (Begging.)
5. What was his name? (Bartimaeus—son of Timaeus. Perhaps that too was simply an indication of his worthlessness to society—he was simply the son of Timaeus nothing more.)
6. Do we act toward anyone in our society like this crowd acted toward Bartimaeus?
7. What are ways we can give attention to those in need around us today?
The crowd tried to divert attention away from him, Jesus was drawn to him!
8. Is there anything I’m doing in my life that is more important than what Jesus was about to do when He was interrupted by Bartimaeus?
9. Why is it important for Christians to set the example in regard to the valuing of human beings? (Relate the story of Michael at Wal-Mart while ringing the Salvation Army Bell on Dec. 10th.)
While the crowd saw Bartimaeus as a noisy nuisance, Jesus saw him as a person with a need that He could meet. We need to be watchful and ready to see people in the same way that Jesus sees them.
Summarize and Challenge!
1. What are some excuses you may have used in the past for ignoring the needs of others?
2. Consider: How does each of these fall short of what God desires?
This is not meant to heap guilt upon anyone but to encourage us to go to God and seek His will in our own individual lives for how we need to be involved. None of us have the resources to “fix” all the wrongs. We must be sensitive to what God wants for us individually.
3. How are Christians readily equipped to advocate for those facing unjust death?
4. What actions are you taking to rescue and protect innocent people facing death?
Thank God for reminding you that human life is to be valued. Ask God to give you a heart like Jesus’ heart—valuing all people and speaking up for all those who need our care and protection.