Andy Stanley says guardrails are, “a system designed to keep us from straying into dangerous or off-limit areas.”
Stanley reminds us that guardrails are beneficial when driving across a bridge, or on a curvy mountain road. The guardrails are constructed to keep us from getting too close to the edge. They both warn and protect.
My wife always feels a little safer when we’re driving up a mountain road and there are guardrails. If there aren’t any guardrails she gets a bit nervous. And suggests maybe we ought to take a different route.
The Bible offers guardrails for our spiritual safety. Guardrails to direct behavior. To keep us from straying. From going over the edge. And from getting too close to something that might hurt or harm the soul. Such admonitions are often found in the book of Proverbs as the wise man counsels his son about life, relationships, and temptations.
Consider this section with the spiritual guardrails that keep us on “the straight and narrow path.”
20 My son, give attention to my words;
Incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not let them depart from your eyes;
Keep them in the midst of your heart;
22 For they are life to those who find them,
And health to all their flesh.
23 Keep your heart with all diligence,
For out of it spring the issues of life.
24 Put away from you a deceitful mouth,
And put perverse lips far from you.
25 Let your eyes look straight ahead,
And your eyelids look right before you.
26 Ponder the path of your feet,
And let all your ways be established.
27 Do not turn to the right or the left;
Remove your foot from evil.
#1 Pay attention to the right people.
Whatever I listen to will fill my mind, affect my feelings, and influence my choices. Am I listening to the Lord? Am I receiving advice from wise and godly people? Am I reading books based on Truth? Am I avoiding ungodly counsel? (Ps. 1:1).
#2 Protect your heart.
“Above all else guard your heart.” It is the whole of who we are–intellect, emotions, will, and conscience. All four of these aspects of the heart serve as an important guardrail for purity, virtue, and godliness. Warren Wiersbe was right when he wrote, “If we pollute that wellspring, the infection will spread; before long, hidden appetites will become open sins and public shame.”
#3 Control your tongue.
Whatever is on our hearts will almost always come out of our mouths. However, thoughts and feelings may arise that we realize need to be squelched. Some things don’t need to be said or shared. As ancient Preacher expressed it well–“Words from a wise man’s mouth are gracious, but a fool is consumed by his own lips” (Eccl. 10:12)
#4 Be careful what you see.
The advice of a man after God’s own heart, the Psalmist David, will provide a safe guardrail for us as well. “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes” (Ps 101:3). Also, the author Psalm 119 offered wise counsel when he prayed, “Turn my eyes away from worthless things” (v. 37). TV, the internet, movie, our iPhones, magazines can all tempt us with visual images that the world calls “eye candy.” However, what seems sweet at the moment, will turn bitter sooner or later.
#5 Watch where you’re walking.
To “ponder your path” is to weigh, evaluate or examine the direction of your life. The ancient Socrates is credited with saying, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” By inspiration Paul admonished, Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves” (2 Cor. 13:5).
Are you walking in the way of righteousness?
Are you walking in the path of God’s commandments?
Are you walking in wisdom?
Are you walking in the Spirit?
Are you walking by faith?
Are you walking in love?
Are you walking in the light?
Are you walking in a manner worthy of the Lord?
Erecting, observing, and respecting these guardrails will go a long way toward protecting you and keeping you spiritually safe.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman