Proverbs 21:16, 23 – The one who wanders from the way of wisdom will end up in the company of the departed. 23 The one who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps his life from troubles.
Proverbs 22:3,5 – A shrewd person sees danger and hides himself, but the naive keep right on going and suffer for it. 5 Thorns and snares are in the path of the perverse, but the one who guards himself keeps far from them.”
Proverbs 4:23 – Guard your heart with all vigilance, for from it are the sources of life.
Perhaps it is not so thoughtful to post a day late, but you were on my mind. I could not let my favorite day of posting pass me by – I love the book of Proverbs! So, despite a day busier than days oughta be, here is my post on Proverbs.
The spirit of every human being longs to be known – longs to find a safe haven of acceptance. We long to rest from the need of having to prove ourselves yet again to anyone else, or having to be guarded . . . yet we dare not let our guard down and rest from this aspect of our walk with God in our relentless pursuit of being more like Him.
When I first came to know the LORD, so many things that fall short of the glory of God became evident in my character. It was humbling and overwhelming, but exciting! Grateful that I could now see these burdens in my life and submit to God to change me, walking with God was an adventure. But time marches on and we forget what we were saved from. We forget the need to separate ourselves from things in this world that can pull us away. We take for granted the high price of our salvation and perhaps consider our new faith impenetrable. Slowly we begin to entrust our walk to others to define our boundaries.
Guarding our way seems old fashioned, prudish even. There is a mentality today that says we should not be guarded, for that might appear legalistic or judgmental. Living a guarded life differs from a cookie cutter philosophy which mandates that everyone be the same so all are comfortable. Is such a mentality biblical? You decide. What do the Scriptures above mean by guarding our way? Assuredly, it is not having a personal bodyguard and living in a state of paranoia, but it is living carefully. You risk-takers out there are shutting me off right now, but hang in there. It means there is a filter I run my thoughts and my actions through. I cannot rest from seeking diligently to know that God is pleased with my current course, or dare to pridefully assume that just because I have in the past walked rightly with God that I do not need to examine myself afresh each day.
It is not popular to guard ourselves. Guarding means I do not seek to live in a way to please man. It means I do not just blindly trust others because I do not want to create waves. It also means in humility that I do not think my own opinion is more weighty than others, or my way is right because it has been in the past – but that I carefully submit all to God before trudging ahead.
There was a very difficult season in my life in which Proverbs 22:3 was driven home. I had trusted someone so implicitly that when I saw evidence that their character was not what they had put forth as an image, I could not believe it and for a moment thought I did not have a right to discern whether that person should hold the same place in my life. They were sorry for their grievous sin that had crushed my world. It was not popular by some to walk in wisdom and guard my way, which might appear judgmental and unforgiving. But in that moment of revelation, God in His mercy helped me to see that forgiveness did not mean allowing someone to wield control in my life who had abused me and loved ones. They had proven by their actions that they were not trustworthy – in fact, I would suffer if I continued to trust their intentions rather than their actions. Just because someone claims with their mouth that they are godly in a moment of self righteousness, does not mean I should blindly accept it.
In this moment you might feel like ultimately we would all not be able to have any relationships if we guard ourselves from anyone who causes us pain. That would be a wrong extreme response and I confess I have been there. We need to be vulnerable to one another but strike a balance of also guarding our way. It is healthy to do so and unhealthy to be codependent and allow someone power to go unchecked in your life. It is, in fact, loving one another to help us see our blind spots, versus flattery which placates the weaknesses we see in one another. Guarding our way and having convictions from the LORD is far different from legalism which imposes its personal convictions on others. We must guard the way God has set before us and be flexible enough to believe He might have a completely different plan for someone else, not to be judged by us.
Christ made himself vulnerable to humans by being born as a helpless babe, yet in John 2:23 it says “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people.” No one is without the need to be examined. We are weak and cannot put confidence in our own flesh. This does not mean we have to by hyper-analytical, rather open and teachable to correction and also discerning of all that is around us. Like the Bereans, we should test the word shared with us, not to judge and condemn, but to guard and ensure our path is still the narrow one, still headed due north. The stakes are too high to naively believe someone else is guarding our way and in a moment of fatigue put down our responsibility to do so. It is not wrong or mean to place boundaries for yourself that keep you safe and mentally healthy. Your very life and walk with God depend on it.
Lord, we are not capable of seeing all the dangers to our soul. Help us to guard our way and to do so in humility. May we not judge others or consider ourselves better, but only be filled with gratitude that you reveal these things to us.