Thursday, May 3, 2018

GUARD


The word Guard and its forms like - guards, guarded, and guardian - are used many times in Scripture. You can see the word being used in the very beginning as a Cherub protects the way back to The Tree of Life by guarding it with a flaming sword (Gen 3:24). Many Psalms and Proverbs speak to guardianship over something in our lives. Some of these are prayers to guard our life (Ps. 25:20;86:2) and a few are for our language or word choice (Ps.141:3; Prov. 13:3; 21:23).

There are things that God guards in our lives and there are things that we are to be a sentry for in our lives. God totally surrounds the believer in a bubble of His Presence. In fact, Luke said as he wrote Acts - "in him we live and move and have our being." (Acts 17:28)However, God desired us to know in particular that He's got our back. In Isaiah 52:12 and 58:8 - God as our rear guard is portrayed. An angel guards the way in Exodus 23:20. I am sure He could use and does use His angels to guard our way today.

There are things to be on guard about in our lives. Jesus taught His disciples to be on guard concerning the "yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees." Later He would explain the "yeast" to be teachings of those legalistic groups (Matt 16:6). Another thing to be on guard about is greed. In Luke 12:15, Jesus is recorded as saying, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” However, on a more positive note, described as an eminent event, believers are encouraged to be on our guard about The Rapture of the Church in Mark 13:33.

Believers in Christ are encouraged that our "course" is guarded (Prov. 2:8), that understanding guards us (Prov. 2:11), to guard God's teachings (Prov. 7:2) and guard instruction in our lives (Prove. 4:13). However, two Scriptures in particular struck me when I was studying the word and concept - Guard.

  1. Proverbs 4:23 - "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."
  2. 1 Timothy 6:20 - "Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care."
In the Proverbs 4:23 verse I would like to call your attention to the phrase "Above all else" and the word "everything". The phrase "Above all else" carries with it the sense that we should drop all that we are doing, all of our preconceived ideas and notions and not only read the words that follow, but obey them. "Above all else" places the command or instruction that follows on the highest pedestal of regard. We receive the command - "guard your heart" - then we get the why.

"Everything" means just that - all that can be conceived. With this in mind, notice that every one of our actions stems from what is on the mind of our heart (if you will). The Zillion Dollar question is - What is your heart filled up on? What consumes your heart? Because whatever you choose to fill the chambers or rooms of your heart with - that is what will flow out. Your heart is going to rat-you-out on everything! So, it is not a wonder that God, through Solomon, instructs us "Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it."

In the second verse we can see how much Timothy's friendship meant to Paul. Paul loved Timothy so much that, among the many things he encouraged, Paul addressed him by name here and delivered the challenge - A Steward of Godly Legacy. This is an awesome mantle, but that is exactly what Paul was communicating to Timothy to protect. Timothy's road of faith led him to shepherd the church in Ephesus. Paul knew the cultural, spiritual and political atmosphere of that city and ended up conveying this message twice to Timothy. In Paul's second letter to Timothy, he said, "Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us." (2 Tim. 1:14)

So, now the challenge comes to us. What has been "entrusted to your care" by God? What "good deposit" has God made in you? Talents? Skills? Insights? Abilities? With all that we do; with all that we say; with all that we think - especially in this day and age, God says, above all else - Guard.