Proverbs 24:11, 12
If you forbear to deliver them that are drawn to death, and those that are ready to be slain;…
The principles contained in this passage are these -
I. THAT ALL HUMAN NEED IS A CLAIM FOR HELP. God has so "fashioned our hearts alike," and has so bound together our lives and our interests, that we are under serious obligation to one another. No man is at liberty to live an isolated life; he owes too much to those that have gone before him, and is too closely related to those who are around him, to allow of such a course. To wish it is unnatural, to attempt it is immoral "We are members one of another;" we are brethren and sisters one of another. And whenever any one about us - whoever or whatever he or she may be - is in any kind of difficulty or distress, is in need of sympathy and succour, there is an imperative demand, as clear as if it came from an angel's trumpet or straight out of the heavens above us, that we should stop, should inquire, should help as best we can (see 1 John 3:17, 18).
II. THAT THE EXTREMITY OF HUMAN NEED IS A MOST POWERFUL PLEA. If any sufferer on life's highway is a man to be pitied and relieved, how much more are they who are "drawn unto death," who are "ready to be slain"! To see our brother or our sister - made like ourselves, and capable as we are of intense suffering, holding life as precious as we ourselves regard it - in circumstances of keen distress or of utmost danger, and to withhold our pity and our aid, - this is condemned of God. Whether we "pass by on the other side (Luke 10:31), so as to hide our cruel indifference as well as we can from our own sight; or whether we pass close by, clearly recognizing our duty, but cynically and heartlessly declining to do it; or whether we stand awhile and pity, but conclude that help will be too costly, and so pass on without helping; - we are guilty, we are unbrotherly, inhuman, altogether unlike our Lord.
III. THAT EXCUSES WILL NOT AVAIL US. If we want to escape from our plain duty we seldom refuse it point blank. We do not say to our Lord or to ourselves, We will not;" we say, "We would if-," or "We will when-." When our brother is in difficulty or in sorrow, and urgently needs the extricating hand, the sympathizing word, we may plead, to ourselves or to our neighbours, our ignorance of the sufferer, our imperfect acquaintance with the circumstances, our want of time, our incapacity for assisting in that kind of trouble, our multitudinous and pressing duties and claims, etc. These may succeed with men, but they will not avail with God. God knows the hollowness of these poor pleas; to his eye they are only thin veils that do not hide our cruel selfishness; he judges that nothing justifies us in abandoning the perishing to their fate, and he condemns us.
IV. THAT GOD IS GRIEVED WITH US FOR OUR OWN SAKE. He "that keepeth our soul" knows it. And because God does "keep our soul," he is grieved to see us take up an attitude towards our brother which
(1) proves us to be unbrotherly, and
(2) helps to fix us in our cold-heartedness. For every act and instance of selfishness hardens our heart and makes it more capable of cruel indifference than before.
V. THAT CRUELTY AND KINDNESS MOVE TO THEIR REWARD. "Shall he not render," etc.? Cruelty and kindness must be cursed or blessed by the immediate effects they leave in the soul of the agent. But they also move toward a day of award, Then will a selfish indifference hear its strong, Divine condemnation (Matthew 25:41-45) Then, also, will a generous kindness listen to its warm, Divine commendation (Matthew 25:34-40). - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: If thou forbear to deliver them that are drawn unto death, and those that are ready to be slain;