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Today’s Truth

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away.

Matthew 5:29

Friend to Friend

How’s that for an encouraging verse! Jesus said it, so let’s talk about it a minute.

One Sunday my pastor had to do some housekeepin’ fussin’ at our congregation before he started his sermon. It was a “visitors, close your ears” moment as Jimmy interrupted the service for an important message from our neighbors.

See, right beside our church property is a city park. On Sundays, when our parking lot is full, we tend to use the city parking lot for our overflow parking. The only problem is the folks going to the city park don’t like it that those daggum church people are taking their parking spaces.

It is not nice of us. Really. I’m sorry. I’ve done it too.

And while our sweet pastor calmly asked the congregation, once again, to stop parking in the city parking lot (he didn’t yell, but I bet he wanted to), folks still do it.

As soon as Jimmy finished his announcement and began his sermon, God had a sermon just for me. He wasn’t finished with me and the forbidden parking lot issue. That’s what happens when you make a path or keep a path open, He seemed to say. You’re going to walk down it eventually.

See, although we’ve been warned, scolded, and pleaded with not to park next door, a little path is situated through the bushes, from the city park’s parking lot to our church’s parking lot. The bushes are trimmed on both sides, cobblestones are carefully placed, and a nice little bit of concrete forms a gently curving sidewalk. Someone keeps the bushes clipped and the grass maintained. The breezeway almost beckons us (me) to break the rules.

Now let’s go down a different path. Let’s call the path sin, or maybe it’s just a bad habit you say you can’t help indulging in. Let’s say you’ve decided that once and for all you are not going to park yourself in the parking lot of that behavior.

You’re not going to stop by Dunkin’ Donuts and eat a half dozen chocolate-covered donuts in one sitting.

You are not going to sleep with that boyfriend—ever again!

You’re not going to date that guy you know is bad for you—ever again.

You’re not going to look at that website.

You’re not going to flirt with the married guy in the next cubicle.

You’re not going to gossip about other people.

You’re not going to drink alcohol because you know you have a problem.

You’re not going to _______________.

Hundreds of vices could be put in that last sentence. But then there’s a nice little path you’ve kept open…just in case. You wouldn’t call it “just in case.” You wouldn’t say it out loud.

The guy’s number is still in your contacts list on your smartphone.

You still think about what that guy in the next cubicle would like when you get dressed for work in the morning.

You still pull up that website when you hope God isn’t looking.

You still pull up a chair when someone begins to gossip.

You still take the route home from work that goes right by Dunkin’ Donuts.

You keep a bottle in the cabinet…just for company.

The path beckons you. And as long as you keep the breezeway open, you’ll probably breeze right through it…eventually. The answer? Remove the path. Put up a fence with no gate.

Remove the contact.

Change the job.

Get rid of your computer.

Take a different route home from work.

Remove the bottle.

Make the path impassable, implausible, and impossible to take, and put up a gateless fence instead. Jesus said, if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out (Matthew 5:29). That’s pretty dramatic. I’m not telling you to pluck out your eye, and Jesus wasn’t saying that either, not literally. But He was telling us to remove the cause of the temptation. Remove the path. Put up a fence.

Do you need to put up a fence where you now have a path? I erected a fence the moment I pressed the send button when I told this story about the pastor’s sermon in a blog post. As soon as I had told someone about my parking dilemma, I never parked in the city parking lot again. Just telling someone about the struggle often helps with accountability. And you don’t have to do it alone. You have the power of the Holy Spirit working in you and through you. Don’t believe the devil for one second when he says you’re helpless and hopeless to act any differently than you are today.

Let’s Pray

Lord, I’ll admit, I have a few paths that need to be shut down. Help me to have healthy boundaries and strong fences that keep me away from tempting situations. Help me to make new paths that lead to holy living.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Ponder the following verses and turn them into prayers.

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 ESV

Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Psalm 25:4 ESV

In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:6 ESV

More from the Girlfriends

Do the voices in your head tell you that you are not good enough, smart enough, pretty enough, or just not enough, period? If so, it’s time to stop listening to the lies that sabotage your confidence and start embracing the truth of your true identity in Christ. It’s time to overcome the lies of the enemy with the promises of God.

Enough: Silencing the Lies that Steal Your Confidence exposes the lies that keep you bogged down in guilt, shame, and insecurity. By recognizing the lies, rejecting the lies, and replacing the lies with truth, you’ll be able to:

  • silence the voice inside that whispers you’re not good enough
  • accept God’s grace and no longer allow past failures to define you or confine you
  • be preloaded with the truth to fight insecurities
  • walk in the surefooted confidence of God’s unconditional love

Also, for a daily reminder that you are enough, see Sharon’s Enough bracelet crafted by the women of Fashion and Compassion.

8 Responses to “When You Need to Tear Down a Path and Put Up a Fence”

  1. Janette says:

    This devotion is awesome and hits home! I hope everyone who reads it gets the message as well as I did. Thank you.

  2. Angela Vance says:

    Please be praying for my family, especially my seven year old daughter. God knows…

  3. Brande says:

    Wow!! This is exactly what I need this morning. Thank you

  4. None says:

    Thank you for your words and ideas on closing down paths, breezeways, that if we continue to have even a small crack open, we may in time find a reason in our minds to venture down. Once we open the door more and more we can fall right back into the sin we so wanted to leave. Love the words “Put up a fence” block that path of temptation, and when we do that and continue steadily forward and that which lured us there, will slowly subside and God’s words will help us to “stand firm”.

  5. Thank you for your words and ideas on closing down paths, breezeways, that if we continue to have even a small crack open, we may in time find a reason in our minds to venture down. Once we open the door more and more we can fall right back into the sin we so wanted to leave. Love the words “Put up a fence” block that path of temptation, and when we do that and continue steadily forward and that which lured us there, will slowly subside and God’s words will help us to “stand firm”.

  6. Lorraine says:

    Tearing down paths and putting up fences was a profound message. Not only does apply to bad habits like buying those potatoe chips and cookies and eating them knowing that the junk food is not good for my health. The fence is put up when we leave it in the store and do not bring it home with us. Temptations will always need a fence.up. The other fence to put up is to protect us from fear and anxiety. I know I have to put that fence up and pray that the fence is strong because the enemy would like you to believe that you have no protection. Well, we mus pray and ask GOD to strengthen our fence so we fully benefit GOD’s blessings.

  7. Barbie says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  8. Linda says:

    Thank you so much for this message today. It was just what I needed for today. God is so good and always provides what we need when we need it. Your devotionals are so appreciated and such a blessing to me. The one today has given me the ability to be honest with myself and see the error of the path I am on. I am definitely going to put up that fence and hold myself accountable all the while praising God for another chance to get this right in His sight.

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