Growing Hedges of Protection

H.A.L.T stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely and Tired.  If any of those conditions exist we are more tempted to sin.  And if two or more of those conditions exist… well, you can fill in the blank.  This acronym is used commonly in addiction recovery groups.

Proverbs 3:13-14 says “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold.” (NIV2011)  Whether we’re a part of a recovery group or not, there is much wisdom in recognizing when we are at our weakest.

With children, parents learn quickly that it’s not good to delay a mealtime, or naptime.  As parents we’ve learned that children need certain routines and boundaries to keep them in line.  But many adults don’t realize that we need routines and boundaries as well.

Think of your Christian life as a plot of ground.  You mow it, and plant flowers to make your plot look nice.  Outside of your plot are all kinds of temptations.  In your plot of ground is safety and security.  Outside are many dangers.  The problem is it’s too easy to step over the boundary into sin.

Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, And I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths. Hosea 2:6 NASB

Scripture speaks of hedges of protection, whereby God will surround a sinner with thorns to “lead” them away from sin and back to a place of safety.  While that is good, it is far better to not leave that place of safety and security God has made for us.  The wise will realize we can set up our own hedges of protection to keep us from being tempted to stray from safety in the first place.

What would such a hedge look like?  Only God knows us as well as we do.  Look at your weaknesses to determine where you need a hedge.  Perhaps we decide that the electronics goes off at 8PM because we’re more likely to watch things that would not be God honoring when we’re tired.  Or take Anger for instance.  Ephesians 4:26 says BE ANGRY, AND yet DO NOT SIN (NASB)  We may choose to make no major decisions when we get angry, but instead make time to pray.

Our hedge of protection may be as simple as getting to bed at a respectable time, or recognizing when we’re getting grouchy and go take a nap.  These simple rules are designed to keep us from sinning when we are at our weakest.

How do you decide the details of the hedge?  The first answer to that question is to pray about it.  When you sin, ask God “Lord, I don’t want to do that ever again.  What changes can I make to keep me on your narrow path?”

After some time, we need to evaluate.  How’s that working for you?  Do you need to make an adjustment?  Perhaps change some times around that are not working.  For a besetting sin, we may need more than one hedge.

These hedges of protection don’t work so well if we decide to mow them down and dive headlong into evil anyway.  They only work when we take care of them, when we cherish them, when we realize they keep us from sinning and losing that precious fellowship with our Creator.

Make some simple rules that will help you avoid temptation.  Remember, our goal is holiness, so don’t give up when something doesn’t work.  James 1:12 says “Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.”  So keep praying, talk to a pastor or a stronger brother or sister, and don’t give up.

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