Growing up, the best way to get someone to do something was to call them a chicken. You could get your classmates to fight, jump off a building, or shoot a spitball at a teacher simply by calling them a chicken.
fight by running
At some point, someone got tired of always having to take on challenges, so a response to the insult, “chicken” was adopted: “He who fights and runs away, lives to fight another day.” This phrase enabled the person to walk away without shame, not as a coward, but as a shrewd strategist.
The Bible actually teaches a similar truth to the phrase above. It does not speak of running away from a fight, but rather, it speaks about fighting by running away. We are told to resist the devil and to fight the good fight of faith, but we are also told that one of the ways we can fight the battle of temptation is by running. 2 Timothy 2:22 says “flee youthful lusts,” and in 1 Corinthians 10:14 we are told to “flee from idolatry.” These are just two examples of how we are commanded, in certain situations, to fight by running.
Joseph is a great example of someone who fought by fleeing. While serving as the chief steward in Potiphar’s household, Joseph was seduced by Potiphar’s wife. Day after day, she propositioned Joseph, directly asking him to “lie with her.” Day after day, however, he refused her.
One day, she tried to force Joseph’s hand. When no one was around, she grabbed him to force him to be with her. At that point, Joseph knew the only way to win this battle was to run. The scripture says that he was determined to get away at any cost, even leaving behind the garment Potiphar’s wife was clutching. Joseph was determined to not dishonor his earthly master, Potiphar, and to not sin against his ultimate master, God. As such, Joseph ran. He fled from sin and temptation, towards victory, distancing himself from the snare of the enemy.
We should model our fight against temptations after Joseph. Often, we are intrigued by sin and stay close to the edges of temptation. We think we can keep temptation at arm’s length, rather than making sure it is nowhere near us. Idolatry, evil, lustful desires, and many other temptations are best fought by distancing ourselves as far from them as we can as quickly as we can. Don’t walk away, RUN away. Run to victory!