Maybe It's Time To Put Up A Fence

Have the wisdom to show restraint.
— Proverbs 23:4 NIV

Just because someone can message you in an instant, does not mean you must instantly respond. Just because it is a "24/7 world," does not mean you must be available at all hours. Just because something can be done, does not mean it must be done.

Have the wisdom to show restraint.

These words from Proverbs, written in the context of burning the midnight oil to acquire wealth, apply in areas other than finances. "Showing restraint" is another name for self-control.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
— Galatians 5:22-23 ESV

Self-control is hard for all of us with an insatiable appetite to do, to help, and to achieve. I resonate with the lyrics of the song, "I Wanna Do It All" sung by Country artist Terry Clark and written by Rick Giles & Gilles Goddard:

I wanna do it all
Visit Paris in the fall
Watch the Yankees play ball
I wanna take it all in
Catch a few beads
Down at Mardi Gras
Start a tradition
Lay down the law
I wanna do it all

I wanna spend a day
Every now and then
Just doin what I want to do
When I wanna do it
Anytime I wanna do it

I want to do it all too, but I am realizing that many of my dreams won't happen. Not in this season, maybe not in this life! I simply can't do it all.  Nor should I. Jesus teaches me that.

While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:46-50

Jesus' messianic mission and Kingdom priorities were priority, one he was not going to ignore even to satisfy family desires. Jesus demonstrated restraint.

Wise Solomon said, "In all hard work there is profit" (Proverbs 14:23). True! But God knows that relentless work -- even in good cause -- will wear you out. That is why he urges us . . .

Have the wisdom to show restraint.

I liken restraint to erecting a fence. Fences keep some things in and some things out. For instance:

  • Call or text me anytime, but after certain hours I won't hear it and I won't immediately respond. I have put up a fence. It is the "Do Not Disturb" feature on my phone.
  • Monday is my day off. I don't obligate myself to return calls and emails. Only with very rare exception will I plan or attend a meeting. I have put up a fence around that day.
  • Sundays are days reserved for worship and time with the family of SRC. This fence is called the Sabbath. God put it up to rest our bodies and renew our souls.
“Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest.
— Exodus 34:21 ESV

I jump over that Sabbath fence from time-to-time. I am not consciously intending to ignore God. I simply think what I have to do is SO IMPORTANT that I must "get er done." It is not.

Have the wisdom to show restraint.

Where are the fence lines in your life? Do any need mending? Maybe some need to be built. "Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" Paul tells us. But love also knows when to hold up a hand and say, "Enough!"

Have the wisdom to show restraint.