Guardrails Protect & Direct Part 1
2 Kings 5:19-25 Ephesians 5:15-18
Have you ever gone to school and heard someone say, these new friends of mine are taking me to my role of heroin addiction. Have you ever gone to a housewarming party and heard someone say, “this house is going to lead me to bankruptcy.” Have you ever been at a wedding and heard a person say at the end of their vows, and “I will also cheat on you with someone at work.”
Have you ever been at a graduation party and heard someone say, “this degree is going to help me go to jail.” Have you ever heard someone in church say, “I give my life to Jesus, but I will take it back in a year.” No we probably haven’t heard anyone say those things, and yet they happen in someone’s life every day of the year?
What went wrong? It’s not that they planned these things to happen, they just didn’t do a good enough job of planning for them not to happen. Our new series is entitled guardrails. Most of you passed some guardrails on your way to church this morning, and you probably didn’t pay attention to them at all.
On the road, you will find guardrails on bridges to keep you from going into the river or stream. You will find them on curves to keep you from running off the road. You will find them on the side of the road when there is a steep drop off. You will find them in front of concrete poles that are close to the road. You will find them on medians on the highway to keep you from crossing into the lanes of others and to keep others from crossing into your lane.
Guardrails are there to protect and to direct. They protect us by causing some minor damage to our vehicles and bodies now ,to prevent us from causing some major damage to our vehicles and bodies later. They direct us by standing in our way and alerting us, that we need to make a course correction to avoid having any damage at all.
Guardrails come in all forms in life. A curfew is a guardrail. Being home at 11 is to protect you from what might happen if you stayed out later. A policy of having more than one person count the offering is a guardrail. No texting while driving is a guardrail. The most comprehensive guardrail that we have is God’s word. Think about your greatest regret in life. Could it have been avoided if you had obeyed God’s word when faced with the situation.
Our goal in doing this series is to help us to avoid painful regrets in our lives. Anybody who has ever said, “I wish I had listened” knows the consequences of what happens when we don’t listen. Future regrets can be avoided with guardrails. Our society sees the need for guardrails, when it comes to the highway. They have put them in the best places to minimize the amount of damage to our cars and to ourselves.
Our society does not like guardrails when it comes to our behavior. The book of Judges ends with the verse, “In those days, there was no king in Israel: everyone did that which was right in his own eyes.” Our culture does not want guardrails, it prefers while lines painted on the road, and then pretends to be shocked that terrible things happen when we cross the lines.
Society says be responsible with credit. Then we are told we need to give brand new cars as Christmas gifts, and then are shocked when people embezzle money to be able to do it. Society says, men should respect women. We want to end domestic violence and abuse, and yet we have three different fifty shades movies that we pay to go and watch abuse. Those three movies made 1.2 billion dollar. Our society says, drink responsibly but doesn’t tell us what it means. Our society is alarmed at the number of people killed by drunk driving, and a panel reported on the news that perhaps a new 50 cent increase in the tax on alcohol will reduce the problem.
Jesus didn’t come to change the heart of society. He came to change our hearts, because that’s where the problem begins. He wants us to establish some personal guardrails out of our love for him and our love for our own future. Guardrails let us know that life is connected. If you go beyond this point, bad things are going to happen.
The decisions I make today are going to have an impact on my life tomorrow. Sometimes we as Christians make the mistake of thinking, “God is going to watch over me and make everything better no matter what I do.” We think we are beyond certain temptations and all we have to do is just get up and walk away even if we give in. Walking away is never as easy and as simple as it seems.
In our Old Testament reading, we came across a guy by the name of Gehazi. Gehazi was the personal servant of the prophet Elisha. Gehazi knew the Lord. He was very bright and intelligent. Gehazi could pick up on some of the small things that Elisha overlooked. Gehazi had seen how God had worked through the life of Elisha.
He was there the day Elisha told the Shunnamite woman, this time next year, you will have a son. He was there the day several years later when the son died, and Elisha raised him back from the dead. He was there when Elisha turned some poisoned soup into a delicious meal. He was there when Elisha fed a 100 men with twenty loaves of bread. He was there when Elisha healed Naaman of leprosy.
Naaman was a foreign general, from an enemy country, who had come to Elisha to be healed of leprosy. Elisha told him to go down and go under in the Jordan River 7 times, and he would be cured. At first Naaman thought this was stupid and went away angry. His servants convinced him to try it. He did it and was healed. He came back to Elisha and wanted to pay him with a lot of money and clothing for what he had done.
This was a tremendous miracle. Nobody could cure anyone of leprosy. Namaan was the best general in the entire army but his leprosy had kept him out of mainstream society. All that was going to change, and he was ready to make Elisha rich for the healing.
But Elisha had a personal guardrail when it came to be used by God, and about wealth itself. He didn’t want to give the appearance that he was doing miracles for money. He didn’t want to give the appearance that God could be paid to do miracles for you. He didn’t want to give the appearance that he had healed Namaan by his own power.
You know that you are establishing guard rails in your life when you are concerned about the appearance your life is giving, even when you are not doing anything wrong. You’re understanding the purpose of your life is to glorify God. Elijah was protecting himself, and what others thought about God.
Elisha didn’t want this foreigner going back home saying how he had paid for his miracle. He wanted Namaan to be able to say nothing except, “God showed mercy on me, when I know I did nothing to deserve it. I couldn’t even pay for what happened to me.” That’s how Elisha sent him away.
But for some reason Gehazi, felt that Elisha should have gotten more money out of the situation. I don’t know if in the past, Elisha had always shared with him, some of what others gave him or not. I don’t know if he was mesmerized by the amount of money Namaan had brought with him. But Gehazi decided to take a course of action to get what he thought he deserved. Now the only possible role he had played in the miracle was to relay the message “Go wash yourself in the Jordan River seven times and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.” Yet he was going to take matters in his own hands to get what he could from this foreigner.
Our New Testament Reading says 15 Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise,16 making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.
Gehazi decides he will go and catch up with Naaman and tell a lie in order to get some money and some clothing for himself. He hurried, and he was running after him, but he was going to get more than what he was running after. He had to reach him and get back before Elisha missed him.
Now this is a person who knows the Lord, but he thinks he deserves something, he really doesn’t deserve. He’s coming up with a smart way to make some money quickly, but it’s not a wise way to make money. I want us all to be aware of how quickly we can become tempted to get involved in something that might lead to destruction. There’s nothing to suggest that Gehazi had been anything, but a faithful servant up to this point.
In this series, you will hear Andy Stanley define wisdom in this way.
“In light of my past experience, my present circumstances, and my future hopes and dreams, what is the wise thing to do.” (Past-God revealed things to Elisha in the past that he could have never known on his own. Present - I currently like my job and do not have plans for another job. I hope to one day be his successor just like Elisha was Elijah’s servant and became his successor.”)
Gehazi went through seven guardrails in less than a couple of hours.
• Forgot who was in charge of making the decision
• Did not let Elisha know where he was going.
• Ran after something he knew belonged to someone else
• Slandered Elisha’s reputation-Used someone else
• Used deception in order to obtain what he wanted
• Felt the need to hide what he had obtained
• Lied about where he had been
I am sure that Gehazi had plenty of good thoughts about where he was going to wear those clothes and how he was going to spend the money. The only thing was, he didn’t fully factor in the God factor. He didn’t think anybody could figure out what he had done. Elisha not only knew what he had done, he knew Gehazi’s long term plan which was to use the money to buy olive groves, vineyards, flocks, herds and servants.
You know when you do something today, you should automatically assume you are on somebody’s camera somewhere. It’s actually another guardrail society has given us without intending to. If we know we’re going to get caught, we might walk with more wisdom.
God had been doing facebook live with Elisha before there was a facebook. Elisha told Gehazi, my spirit was with you when the man got down from his chariot. I was watching the whole thing. The leprosy Namaan had, will now cling to you and your descendants forever. Immediately Gehazi turned as white as snow with leprosy.
When we go through guardrails, we are not the only ones impacted. It can affect our children, our spouses, our parents, our friends, our church, and out witness for Jesus Christ. Don’t you think Gehazi regretted going through those guardrails? Guardrails would have given Gehazi more control over his future.
We each need to understand our own individual desires and set up some guardrails to help ourselves. Let’s be honest about what we can and cannot handle, what draws us away from God, and what we are flirting with that could be painful.
The New Testament instructed us to Be filled with the Spirit. That means if you’re going to give someone or something control over your life or behavior let it be the Holy Spirit. When you become a Christian, God activates your conscience to another level. You find yourself not being able to do the same things without a little alarm going off. We are told to be careful how we live. What looks like an easier way, may be just the opposite
Nobody plans to wreck their lives, their career, their marriage, or their money. They just didn’t stop at the guardrails that God wants for our lives. Jesus gave us a final commandment and it too is simply a guardrail for the boundaries of how we are to relate to each other. 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
For the next four weeks, we are going to look at where and how, we need to place guardrails in our lives if we are going to be able to fulfill Jesus’ commandment.
Some of the ideas in this sermon came from Andy Stanley’s series Guardrails at Northpoint Church. Also I created a powerpoint for this sermon which I will gladly share for free. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need it.