If done for the wrong reasons, protecting others can turn into friendly fire.
Protecting others is a good thing, right? We could site verses like Psalm 82:3-4, ”
“Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked.”
So how could protecting others ever be a bad thing?
Protecting others can go sideways when we forget who The Protector is. There is only One who is able to protect completely, 24/7. God is The Protector, not us. We are only a conduit of His protection. We are able to protect others in a healthy way only when we yoke up with The Protector. When we allow Him to do the heavy lifting.
Protecting others can also go sideways when we are motivated by fear, rather than love. Fear will take us down paths that God never asked us to travel. It can be helpful to look at fear and the problem before us as two separate issues. Get rid of the fear, and then we will be able to see clearly to address the issue. If we allow fear to hi-jack our protective nature, it has the potential to harm those we want to help.
When our children were young, I recognized an ungodly mindset in an individual who had influence in the lives of our children. I made an unconscious decision that day… I would protect our children from that mindset. It was as if I’d erected an invisible wall of protection. A “no trespassing” sign. That wall was made out of fear. In the spiritual realm, I had wrapped a protective arm around my children and said, “You shall not pass!” While it is true that children need adults to advocate for them, the foundation for my actions was fear. Fear does not protect anyone. The sad thing is, others are often able to discern the presence of those invisible “no trespassing signs.” The distrust that they represent can cause further deterioration in relationships.
When we partner with God, asking Him to protect, He is able to put up walls of protection. His walls allow what is good to pass through and keeps anything destructive out. Fear has no place in God’s walls of protection. God may lead us to take further action in order to protect those we love. Other times He may only lead us to pray. The key is to bring God into the situation. Ask for guidance. Trust Him to protect.
Protecting others can also become a negative when we seek to protect because we don’t believe God will. While our theology may still say, “God is The Protector,” our perception may be that God doesn’t always do His job as Protector, so we’d better protect.
Protecting others can also go sideways when we have to dishonor or dominate others in order to protect them. A good question to ask ourselves is,
“Am I acting as someone else’s protector because I’m assuming they are incompetent? Not capable? Unreliable? I recently found myself doing this. Without asking permission, I just started doing something for someone because I didn’t think they could do it for themselves. But when I stepped back and examined my motives, I realized that I did it because I thought it should be done a certain way. I took control in an attempt to protect. In my pride, I over-stepped. I dishonored. I became friendly fire. Good intentions mixed with dishonor. It would have been so much more honoring to simply offer help. Ask permission. Let them have a voice over their own life. Thankfully my apology was accepted. Permission was given, and I moved ahead. This time with honor.
Protection can also go sideways when we don’t ask for God’s perspective of others. Sometimes we determine that those we love need protection from certain individuals based on how they acted in the past. But people change. We need God’s perspective on others for TODAY.
How do we protect others in the way that God intended?
We protect others well when we have an accurate perception of God. Is it our perception that He will come through as The Protector of those we love? If not, let’s compare our perception of God against what the Bible has to say about Him. Psalm 91:14-15 says,
“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him…”
If we recognize that our perception about God as The Protector doesn’t line up with what the Bible says is true, we have a choice to make. Will we renounce the lie our heart believes about God? Will we CHOOSE to believe the Bible, or our perceptions? If we choose to believe the Bible, repentance is the way we are restored. Consider a prayer of repentance, i.e., “Lord, I realize that I have believed lies about you. I no longer want to do that. I choose to believe that you are the Protector. Please forgive me. Lord, I believe. Please help my unbelief.”
Another way that we can protect others well is to pray. Praying for God to protect others protects us from fear and reminds us Who the Protector is. And sometimes we act, but it’s wise to not assume we are supposed to act in every situation. Let’s ask the Lord if He has any marching orders for us. It can be powerfully effective to ask the Lord for His timing as well.
Ironically, realizing that we do not have the power to protect those we love 24/7 is another key to protecting others well. It is when we see our own limitations that we are compelled to cast all our cares on God.
When our children were small, I was plagued with fear that something violent would happen to them. As long as I believed the lie that it was in my power to protect them in my own strength, anxiety ran rampant in my mind. When our children became school age and I was no longer able to be with them all the time, I came face to face with the reality that I simply did not have the power in myself to protect them 100%, 24/7. It was when I saw my need for God (who is all-seeing and all-powerful) to be the protector of our children that I was able to let go and let God. Peace came when I transferred that need for protection onto Him. When I did this, God proved Himself faithful.
Another key to protecting others well is to ask ourselves some questions:
- “Is honor present for the other person?”
- “Am I “watering my neighbor’s grass?”
- “Am I (unintentionally or intentionally) acting in a way that pressures legitimate authority to yield to my control?” “Am I posturing authority over others that has not been given to me by God?”
- “Am I acting in pride, thinking things have to be done my way?”
- “Am I being motivated by fear, or by love?”
- Has God given me any marching orders, or is He only asking me to pray?”
- “How does God want me to partner with Him in protecting?”
- “Do the people I care about need protection from _____(name)?
- “Am I attempting to protect by inspiring and leading, or by pushing, pressuring and forcing?”
- “Have I offered to help, or am I assuming others want it?”
- “Have I erected walls of fear around those I love in order to protect them? If so, how can I tear those walls down and put my trust in God?”
- What exactly am I afraid will happen if I do not protect? Can I ask God to keep that from happening?
May the Lord protect that which concerns you,