Guarding the Avenues of the Soul
“There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.” “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.” “And the Lord said unto Satan, Hast thou considered my servant Job, that there is none like him in the earth…” “Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, Doth Job fear God for nought? Hast not thou made an hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side?” (Job 1, KJV)
In the story of Job we find the secret of spiritual parenting: That of making a hedge about our children. It is hard, taxing work and it requires constant vigilance and attentiveness. If we are to raise God-fearing children, children who love and respect God above all else, we as parents must stand on guard continually.
The avenues of the soul are our senses. We must carefully monitor our minds and imaginations and to what they are exposed. “The heart is corrupted through the imagination. The mind takes pleasure in contemplating scenes which awaken the lower and baser passions.”1 In our minds, influenced by what we see and hear, arises the desire for power, love and excitement.
Guarding our senses requires much self denial. Not only must we be on constant guard to protect our own senses, but parents must protect the senses of their children, too. When driving along the highway, we are frequently assaulted with billboards promoting the latest movie, many of which depict scenes of sorcery or violence. I have trained my little three-year-old to close her eyes, or to hide her eyes with her hands when driving by these advertisements. She doesn’t want to see “the scary pictures” anymore than I. Such a practical example of how we may have to live in this world, but we can protect ourselves from its influences if we so choose. Satan cannot take control of our minds without our consent.
To build a hedge about our children is to protect them in every manner possible; making the necessary sacrifices; not succumbing to the condescension of others. We cannot introduce children to television, movies, electronic games and fascinating stories and then expect them to desire Bible study. We cannot expose them to syncopated music and mantras and then cause them to enjoy listening to, and performing, music of an elevating nature. We must not send them to public schools or even large, popular “Christian” schools with all their games and performing arts if we desire them to cultivate a knowledge of God that is ever-deepening, practically applied and life-changing.
The increasing boldness with which deviance and alternative lifestyles are flaunted requires our moment to moment vigilance. As parents, it may be difficult to gently explain why various things are not acceptable to the followers of Christ, why we must resist the temptation to exalt self, but it is imperative that our young children understand what sin is and why. Legalism will not save our children and certainly permissiveness is perilous. Our only safety is in Christ and His Word. Seek to live out Psalms 101, Philippians 4:4-8 and, of course, Exodus 20. Let the Bible be your guide and you will be able, with Heaven’s power, to shield the avenues of the soul.
© 2010, C. Gillan Byrne
1White, E. G. (1954/2002). Prevalence of Corrupting Vices (Chapter Title). In E. G. White Publications (Eds.), Child Guidance (p. 439, ¶ 2). Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association.
1White, E. G. (1952). Enticing Sights and Sounds (Chapter Title). In E. G. White Publications (Eds.), Adventist Home (p. 406-409). Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association.