We were expecting guests one evening recently, and we knew exactly when they drove on to the property. Suddenly, Chloe went tearing by the window—in the opposite direction. I am not sure if she actually made it all the way around the house and under the porch to hide before they drove up or not, but she made herself scarce as soon as they exited their vehicle. At least we knew to go open the door when we saw her tearing across the yard.
Sometimes we need to learn a thing or two from Chloe. The Lord expects us to fight, to stand, and be firm—but not always. At times, the thing we are fighting is too dangerous to get that close. In those cases he does not want us to be foolhardy daredevils. He tells us to just run.
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (1Cor 10:14) You may think this is no problem for us. You would be wrong. In a culture that worships celebrity, we are just as prone as those first century Christians to follow the pagans in their exciting festivals and sacrifices. For us, it's falling into the temptation of thinking more highly of people than we ought (Rom 12:3)—just look at the disparity in wages between actors and athletes versus first responders and schoolteachers. Our skewed sense of values is shameful. We, too, fall into the temptation of fashioning our lives after popular idols instead of Christ—clothing, lifestyles, recreation, and other things which may not be appropriate for a child of God. And that is only one of various forms of idolatry our society participates in.
But as for you, O man of God, flee these things... (1Tim 6:11) Check the context immediately above this verse and you will see that Paul is warning Timothy about the corrupting nature of wealth. If ever a culture needs that warning today, it is ours. We spend too much of our time on it, too much of our energy and thought. Just compare what you spend on entertainment (TV, movies, vacations, etc.) in a year with what you spend on spiritual things, including your Sunday morning contribution, and see where you stand. And so like everyone else, we dream of being rich because if we had all that money, we would be different! It would not be a problem for us to handle it. If you have ever thought such a thing, run! You are in danger. Don't even try to stand and fight it. It will swallow you whole.
Flee fornication. Every sin that a man does is without the body; but he that commits fornication sins against his own body. (1Cor 6:18) I have seen too many good strong men and women fall by this very sin, people you would never have thought would do so. Elders, deacons, Bible class teachers, even preachers. This is so dangerous that even that great hero of faith, Joseph, did not try to fight it. He simply ran (Gen 39:12). Do you really think you are stronger than he was? Don't do anything that will leave you in a vulnerable position. It isn't exciting, glamorous, or romantic—it is sin. Period. Just ask yourself the same question Joseph did: "How can I do this great wickedness and sin against God?" If you want to know how you can, then stick around like a fool and you will find out soon enough. If you want to save yourself—run.
But flee youthful lusts… (2Tim 2:22) Timothy was not all that young when Paul wrote him these words, probably in his late thirties or early forties. That tells you that "youthful" lusts are dangerous to everyone, not just young people. Do you want to see youthful lusts in action? Watch that white-haired man drive down the road in his Corvette convertible with that twenty-something blonde in the passenger seat. Mid(and later)-life crises happen when people decide they have not been able to do everything they ever dreamed of. Instead of enjoying life with the wives of their youth, becoming a child again with their grandchildren, and spending their golden years serving God in ways they never could earlier, they have decided that selfishness is the way to go. It is easy to see the draw. It is harder to turn away if you stand there too long. Run, run, and keep on running. Those youthful lusts would have ruined your life then, and they can ruin what's left of it now.
So yes, once in a while it's okay to follow Chloe's example. Running can be good for you, and not just for the exercise of it. Running can save your soul.
Save yourself like a gazelle from the hand of the hunter, like a bird from the hand of the fowler. (Prov 6:5)