Easy To Fail
If being a beekeeper has shown me anything, it is that failure comes very easily. It is not that honey bees possess less of an ability to survive than other creatures . . . that would not be true. I think anyone who undertakes any form of agricultural endeavor could probably tell you that there are at least 1,001 ways for living organisms to perish. In my case, the ugly varroa mite (main pest against bees) could come upon my colony and cause their demise. The queen could accidentally get crushed right before the winter when I cannot replace her making me lose the whole box of bees. Honey stores can run low, a box top could be cracked open, or a mouse could sneak in and wreck the hive. Indeed, the opportunity for failure abounds!
However, most of that which poses a threat to the honey bees can be dealt with by an alert and knowledgeable beekeeper. Carefully inspecting the hives before a cold front helps to ensure everything is sealed tight. If I lose a few colonies due to the varroa mites, then I can change my method of dealing with them the next year to handle the problem. While not foolproof, a little bit of simple know-how and awareness can go a long way in the bee industry. Vigilance is vital. In fact, it is essential not only for beekeeping but also for life. Proverbs 4:23-27 says:
“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you. Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Ponder the path of your feet; then all your ways will be sure. Do not swerve to the right or to the left; turn your foot away from evil.” -Proverbs 4:23-27
The entire point of this section from proverbs is that we must keep diligent attention on the path we are to walk. That word vigilance is vital though, if we are to see the fullness of this text, then we must comprehend that definition!
Noah Webster’s 1828 American Dictionary defines vigilance as follows:
“Watchful; circumspect; attentive to discover and avoid danger, or to provide for safety.”1
If you look at Proverbs 4:23-27, you will see that the passage works to describe vigilant living. The son is called to put away crooked speech and devious talk, to look forward not allowing his gaze to be distracted. He is to ponder the path that he might walk surely not turning his foot toward evil but away from it. All of this marks watchful, or vigilant living. In fact, this section opens in verse 20 extending the call, “My son, be attentive to my words; incline your ear to my sayings.” That is the path of vigilance set forth, it means to be attentive and incline yourself to the truth always watching your life and keeping it in check.
It is very easy to go down the path without any intentions in mind. Looking to the left or right and veering ever so slightly comes naturally to us. Proverbs 4:19 mentions the reality that the wicked “do not know over what they stumble.” That is the path of carelessness, not vigilance. The wicked do not pay close attention to ensure they stay on the path of righteousness because they are living in sin. Therefore, it is not merely that they choose the wrong path, they also are left clueless in the dark as to what they are even falling over as they walk in this life. Falling comes naturally to fallen sinners! The vigilant person actively takes steps to ensure they are walking down the right path, whereas the sluggard passively assumes they will traverse the course perfectly. Vigilance leads a man or woman to watch well, whereas the path of the sluggard leads to their demise. How then can we as Christians live with vigilance as we go through this world?
It is one matter to say we need to keep our eyes on the path, quite another to develop that ability in life. If we are to live vigilantly, then the foundation is to stay focused on Christ and His Word. The Scripture is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119:105). That means we must focus on keeping our eyes on Christ, while also being aware of the way we are walking with our feet. It is not simply enough to have your mind set on Christ, you must also actually walk after Him daily. Biblical light must sink into your soul so that it changes each and every step you take. You look with diligence to see the way and you are guided by the pure truth of Scripture.
Vigilance in keeping oneself on the correct path will help them see what needs to be done in their family. A son or daughter will be able to know how to help their parents with some task if they maintain alertness. Fathers and mothers will see with clarity how to instruct their children as they go through life. Pastors, deacons, and church members will know the truth of Scripture, then move to apply it by keeping their eyes open for opportunities to work. Believers will be aware when one or the other is struggling being ready to give encouraging words of counsel to those in need.
We will be enabled by vigilant living to actually stay on the path that God would have for us in this life. Being empowered by His Spirit guided by His Word and enabled by the work of Christ, we shall keep our hearts well as He sanctifies us until He brings us home. Let us return to this mindset of watchful vigilance in this life. It matters whether we are discussing the spiritual, vocational, familial, or countless other realms. Scripture calls upon us to not stumble in the dark, but to walk in the light and to be aware as we go through this life. God shall guide us in this area, may we seek His glory as we advance down that wonderful path to which He has called us!