“Then I said to them, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire. Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”
-Nehemiah 2:17 NIV
When Nehemiah set out to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, his concern was more than cosmetic. This wasn’t just about appearances. Yes, it looked shabby, run down, and disgraceful, but the wall provided protection of two kinds. There was, of course, the physical protection provided by the wall. It would dissuade thugs, vandals, thieves and foreign armies from harassing and plundering the Israelites, but the wall would also, at least symbolically, protect the Israelites from outside influence. The Israelites had a long history of wanting to be like the pagan nations around them. They adopted their sinful practices, worshipped their false gods, and wanted kings like they had. All along, God desired that the Israelites be distinct, and decidedly different from the pagan nations around them. The wall would remind them to be in the world, but not of the world. It may do us well to likewise insulate ourselves, to some extent, from the world around us. Yes, we should be aware of what is going on around us, we are clearly to be active in loving and serving those in the world around us, but we too are to be different from the world around us. We are to live holy lives out of respect for the God who has forgiven and saved us. Some see it as an admirable quality to keep an “open mind”, but if your mind is always open, anything can get in. We have doors on our homes to keep certain things out. We open those doors only when we decide that what is on the other side is beneficial for us and our family. It would do us well to treat our hearts and minds the same way. Through the power of the Spirit, use God’s Word as a protective barrier for your life. Be selective about what you read, see, and hear. God loves you. God forgives you. Live a life that shows how thankful you are for God’s love and protection.