A cartoon by Mike Waters has made the rounds of social media recently. It shows two men standing near a rail fence. The fence is labeled, “God’s Commands.” One of the men says, “I hate being confined by this fence. I’m jumping over it.” As he jumps over the fence, the other man yells, “Wait! It’s not a fence, it’s a guardrail!” In the final frame the jumper is seen going over a cliff. Below the cartoon the words of Prov. 19:16 are written: “He who keeps the commandment keeps his soul, but he who is careless of conduct will die.”
This cartoon perfectly illustrates the self-destructive nature of human beings. We constantly chafe and grouse against any kind of restraints that are placed on us. As children we willfully ignore the warnings and admonitions of our parents because we do not recognize that they are intended for our benefit and well-being. As teen agers we buck against the rules because we think it’s cool to rebel against authority. As adults we push the envelope in order to avoid compliance with rules that we dislike because we may think that they are unreasonable in some way. The sad irony is that we often continue to rebel against such restraints even after suffering some kind of loss due to our lack of compliance.
In Jn. 8:31-32 Jesus told some believing Jews that they must continue in His word in order to truly be His disciples. He promised them, however, that if they did so they would know the truth and the truth would make them free. In 2 Jn. 9 John said, “Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.” These two passages tell us that our spiritual guardrails are the word of Christ. The purpose of these guardrails is to keep us from jumping off the cliff of sin.
If we remain within the confines of the teaching of Christ, we will not engage in the ungodly behaviors that will condemn us at judgment. In so doing we will have a better life here on earth, as well as the promise of eternal life hereafter (1 Tim. 4:8). If we remain within our spiritual guardrails, we will have nothing to fear when we stand before the Lord at the end of time, as all of us must do (2 Cor. 5:10).
In Jas. 1:21 James said, “Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted which is able to save your souls.” It is a simple choice. We can abide within the restraints of God’s word or we can jump over our spiritual guardrails into the abyss of sin. Those who jump the guardrail may seem to be enjoying themselves, but the scriptures teach that the pleasures of sin are fleeting (Heb. 11:25).
On the other hand, those who remain within our spiritual guardrails will find their names written in the Lamb’s book of life at judgment, and eternal life will be their reward. If we are wise, we will recognize that our spiritual guardrails are there for our eternal benefit, and we will remain within them.