The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.Proverbs 28:1
My brothers and I went to a private Christian school for most of our education. The school had all grades, kindergarten through 12th. We did not have traditional classes where the teacher lectured us. Instead we used individual workbooks where we read the material and got the teacher to explain things we didn’t understand.
Because of the structure of the curriculum, it was possible to finish your own work early each day by putting your head down and focusing on the material. If an older student completed their assignments for a particular day, they could work ahead into the next day’s material, or volunteer to help the teachers in classrooms with younger students.
I was always willing to volunteer in another class instead of working ahead. Any opportunity to get out of class was an opportunity I took; even if the volunteer opportunity was picking up the rocks that grew on our football field.
I was a likable kid (or at least I like to believe I was), which I used to get the teachers to let me get away with a little more than I probably should have. Sometimes I would get permission to leave the class for some legitimate sounding reason. When I’d get free, I would wander into other classrooms and tell the teacher that I was available to help them for a while.
After being the hero by helping out a teacher for a bit, I would leave that class and move into the next class.
As long as I stayed in a classroom, there was little chance of getting caught since the teachers thought I must be there legitimately. My own teachers knew that I liked to volunteer to help with anything that needed to be done around the school. If I didn’t come back at the expected time, they assumed that I was conscripted by another teacher to do a job.
I kept both parties in the dark about my skipping out on school work. Before you think I was a terrible student, I want to make it clear, I didn’t do this all the time. I only did it most days during my 10th, 11th, and 12th grade years.
The Wicked Flee
I did fear one person at school: the school administrator, Bro. Hartsfield. I always tried to avoid him when playing my volunteer game. It wasn’t that he was unjustly mean. In fact, I feel he is one of the most level-headed and just disciplinarians I have ever known. My respect made me not want to disappoint him by letting him know I was being deceitful with the teachers.
I would carefully look both ways before crossing the parking lot that separated my class from the younger kids’ classrooms. This wasn’t because I was concerned about cars, but I was concerned that I might run into Bro. Hartsfield. He had a huge set of keys that was easy to hear when he walked. I would listen carefully for the keys to make sure he wasn’t near before leaving one class and dashing to another.
If I did meet him in the parking lot, he would ask where I was coming from, where I was going and why I was out of my own class. These were not questions that I ever wanted to have to answer. I felt guilty about skipping out of class and assumed he was roaming the school grounds looking for me because my teacher told him I was missing again.
What I later learned was that if I did meet him in the parking lot, his questions concerning my actions were often conversational and not accusatory. Yet I was scared to death to see him coming my way when I was ditching class. When you feel guilty, you try avoid those in authority.
Any time he came into a classroom where I was, I was certain he was there to lay my transgressions open for the world to see. I lived in guilt on the days I played hooky within the halls of school.
This brings us to our verse about the wicked fleeing. When you have a guilty conscience, you want to avoid anyone who has authority over you. This is why people literally run away from the police even if the policeman is just seeking information. They have a guilty conscience about something they have done and they feel certain that the police are looking for them.
It is no fun living in a constant state of fear thinking that everyone in authority knows your sins and are ready to pronounce you guilty.
Bold As A Lion
Conversely, it is relieving to have a clear conscience. The world seems brighter and you aren’t having to constantly wonder if the person standing before you is judging all your past transgressions.
For the most part, I had a wonderful relationship with my school administrator. Bro. Hartsfield and I have grown close in the 30+ years since I was listening for the jingle of his keys in the parking lot. Even in school there were many days that I was glad to sit and chat with him because I hadn’t done anything stupid that particular day to feel guilty about. I looked for opportunities to spend time with him by volunteering to work side-by-side with him on projects. Those were the days that I felt as bold as a lion. I had no guilty conscience.
My favorite times in school were when we went on school trips and there were opportunities to volunteer and lend a hand. I had no class time to skip. There was no reason to feel guilty around authority. Our times camping as a group of high school boys was enjoyable and memorable. We had retreats where certain classes got to hang out together with Bro. and Mrs. Hartsfield. No guilt; only learning practical life lessons from those you loved and respected.
When you respect the law over you and the people around you, then you can experience this feeling of boldness. Boldness like a lion.
I resisted the temptation to title this post “Wicked Fleas and Bold Lions.” Too bad we spell flee (to run) and flea (a pest) in two different ways. Otherwise that joke would work as well in print as it does when spoken.
I credit Bro. Hartsfield for instilling a love for the book of Proverbs in my life when I was young. The last 30 blog posts have been a direct result of his teaching on this wonderful book. When I finish with a post from Proverbs 31, I plan to tell you some of the ways Bro. Hartsfield taught Proverbs to us at school.