The best time to stop a problem is before it becomes one. To put it another way, we need to see a problem and deal with it effectively before it becomes an emergency.
Kids have an incredible way of getting to the bottom line without even trying. One little guy sat in his daddy’s lap listening intently to the story that Dr. Luke recorded about the one lost sheep. Dad embellished the story a little bit but the little lad was caught up in the drama. Dad explained that one sheep found a hole in the fence that had been undetected by the shepherd and slipped away from the safety of the corral. He had tons of fun frolicking in freedom until the big, bad wolf set out to catch him and have the sheep for a delicious lunch. As he ran as fast as he could to escape the sharp fangs of the wolf and was sure that he was losing the race, suddenly the shepherd showed up and rescued him from certain death and took him back into the corral.
What a happy ending, dad assumed. But his son was not quiet ready to go off to bed. He had trouble closing his eyes to sleep until he settled a very important question. “Did anyone nail up the hole in the fence?”
Amazing. He had never attended class on “Problem Solving 101”at the local university, but he recognized that this process of losing sheep was an unending problem unless someone fixed the fence.
Ben Franklin said it like this many years ago. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
The implications are clear. In the medical profession, doctors would call it preventative medicine. You know, a stitch in time saves nine. An apple a day keeps the doctors away.
A ship with a hole in it must have it repaired or the ship, crew and passengers will sink the next time it goes to sea. A dyke with a hole in it must have it plugged up or a city such as New Orleans will be wiped out when the next flood strikes.
Neglect is not an answer. Ignoring holes will not cause them to go away or seal themselves. We must admit that holes exist and do something about it.
Isaiah coined a phrase which describes the people who fix the holes. He said, “They shall be called, the repairer of the breach…” (Isaiah 58:12) They are recognized as people who fix fractured faith, plug up holes of fading hope, and cover up cracks of character weaknesses.
We stop Satan before he sneaks an attack. We thwart the thief before he breaks in to steal, and we avert the avenger before he can set up shop in our homes. In football, coaches call it preventative defense.
Repairers refuse to tolerate the tormentors’ trash talk, permit pillage to take place among believers and allow the adversary to come in like a lamb and leave with a trail of heart ache behind.
Repairers must step up and plug some gaping holes through which all sorts of unwanted and uninvited saboteurs enter. You don’t need a magnifying glass to find the holes. Just examine statistics.
The day for repairers has arrived. Fix some fences. Ephesians 4 will give us direction for fixing 4 gaping holes that may be prevalent in our heart and home.
(Ephesians 4:27 – “Neither give place to the devil.”)
Satan wins some battles because we never put up a fight. We lose by default. Edmund Burke declared, “It is necessary only for the good man to do nothing for evil to triumph.” You give the devil and inch and he will take a mile. Patrick Henry included this comment in his address before the second Virginia Convention of Delegates on March 23, 1775. “We must fight. I repeat it, sir, we must fight….we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations; and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us…Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty , or give me death.” Don’t give place to the devil. Passivity has failed. Fighting prevails. Fight for your children. Fight for your marriage. Fight for your financial success.
(Ephesians 4:28 – “Let him that stole steal no more…”)
Thieves can not be trusted. They force us to put locks on our doors. The much beloved deceased president of the United States made this powerful statement about mistrust. “Nations do not mistrust each other because they are armed; they are armed because they mistrust each other.” I will also add. The same is true of people. We must become repairers and mend the fence of mistrust. It all starts with me.
#3: Misuse of power.
(Ephesians 4:29 – “Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth…”)
Put a muzzle on your mouth. It has ripped more holes in fences than we can ever imagine. James puts it in perspective in chapter 3:4-6. “A word out of your mouth may seem of no account, but it can accomplish nearly anything---or destroy it…by our speech we can ruin the world, turn harmony to chaos, throw mud on a reputation, send the whole world up in smoke … from the pit of hell.”(The Message) Use the words from your lips to inspire not incite wrath, to comfort not to crush, to affirm not to arraign, to unite not to divide and to help not to hurt. To do otherwise is a misuse of power.
#4: Toxic emotions.
(Ephesians 4: 31 – “Let all bitterness…be put away from you…”)
It only takes a crack for the toxic emotion of bitterness to seep in, but it soon poisons everything it touches. It soils the soul, messes with the mind, hijacks happiness and it jettisons joy. No, it’s not the experiences of today that drives us mad. It is the remorse or bitterness for something which happened yesterday. William Arthur Ward prescribed an answer. He said, “Forgiveness is the key that unlocks the door of resentment and the handcuffs of hate. It is a power that breaks the chains of bitterness and the shackles of selfishness.”
Fix the fence of bitterness today or it will taint all of your tomorrows.
In The Journey Together!
Pastor Jimmy & Bob