A guardrail is a system to keep vehicles from straying into dangerous or off limit areas. We’re glad they’re there if we need them but for the most part, we don’t pay attention to them. For the most part, they are not actually located in the most dangerous part of the road. The point is – to keep you away from the actual point of danger. You’ll do less damage if you hit the guardrail than you would if you hit what was on the other side of the guardrail.
The truth is, your greatest regrets relationally, financially, morally and ethically could have been avoided if you had had some guardrails present in your life.
Our definition – A guardrail is a personal standard of behavior that becomes a matter of conscience. “A matter of conscience” meaning, that I am so committed to my principles that if I violate them, it bothers my conscience. I feel guilty. It is my personal standard of behavior that informs my behavior. This is a personal decision you need to make. Where is the line?
Ephesians 5 is addressing the question of “How do I live in a culture that doesn’t reward faithfulness? That doesn’t reward integrity?”
5:15-16 “Be very careful, then, how you live (walk). Not as unwise (careless) but as wise making the most of every opportunity.”
It’s saying “Make the most of your time. Redeem your time. Being very intentional with your time. Because the days are evil.” In other words, if you’re not careful, there will be a price to pay. Because you live in a dangerous time, you’ve got to be careful with how you walk.
5:17 “Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is”. What Paul is saying is “I want you to face up to, to accept, to embrace what you know in your heart is God’s will for your life. Stop deceiving yourself.”
All of us have the tendency to play it as close to the edge as possible. We dance on the edge of chaos. “How close to sin can I get without it being sin? Where is the line?” Quit flirting with disaster. Quit messing around. You’re playing with fire. He gives an example using drunkenness to make his point but it applies to lust, to greed, to material things…
5:18 “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery”. Debauchery = extreme indulgence that leads to a loss of control. Loss of control is the key. Drunkenness is a guardrail. It is what is on the other side of drunkenness that Paul is warning you about.
Lust, greed, alcohol, anger, food, money, material possessions – anything that leads to a loss of control, anything that baits you into things you don’t need to be involved in … that’s where the danger is. That you’d get yourself so torqued up that you lose sight. That you get so obsessed with that new car that you’ll buy it being willing to jeopardize your kid’s college savings. That’s a loss of control. And it will cost you.
Anything that baits you to the point of you losing control, your heavenly Father is against. Because on the other side of that … is disaster. Any area of your life where you tend to hand control over to someone/something else is where you will need a guardrail.
Paul is saying, “Don’t get drunk. It’s foolish. Be careful because the days in which you live are evil. Drunk leads to a loss of control. Loss of control is a sin. It leads to disaster.”
“Instead, be filled with the Spirit”. God wants to be the primary influence in your life. The Holy Spirit indwells the believer. He will prompt you, nudge you, guide you, direct you. The Spirit doesn’t yell. He doesn’t scream. He usually clears his throat. It is a still, small voice in your conscience. We know. We know. We know what’s the right thing. Quit fooling around. Pay attention. Be careful.
This talk might have nudged you. Maybe there is an arena where you’re getting closer and closer and you get so full of lust, you lose self-control. What would it look like if you backed up to a safe distance and put a guardrail in place that maybe no one else would understand but it might just save your marriage?
No one has ever regretted establishing a guardrail but plenty of people regret not having had one in their lives. Guardrails are wisdom. You know where your boundaries should be and you know the cost if you cross them. “What’s the wise thing to do?” Guard yourself. Guard your heart. Guard your eyes. Don’t take foolish risks. Be wise!