A BARRIER may be defined as a structure, such as a fence, to bar one’s passage; something that obstructs or impedes. Literal barriers may be either natural, such as a landslide, or man made, such as a prison wall, residential wall or a barricade. Figurative barriers refer to various hindrances or obstacles in life. Both kinds of barriers can serve good purposes. In most cases, literal barriers save one from danger, whereas figurative barriers tend to strengthen one’s character.
Genesis 24 narrates the story of Abraham, who sent his servant Eliezer to select a bride for his son Isaac. God prospered Eliezer’s mission, by leading him to Rebekah. But when Eliezer desired to leave promptly with Rebekah, he was hindered, because her brother and mother wanted to delay their departure for several days. That is when Eliezer spoke the words of our text. They decided to ask Rebekah, who indicated that she was ready and willing to leave immediately. The obstacle was overcome.
Although God does not place barriers in the lives of His consecrated people, He permits certain barriers for our good and for our protection. For example, when the Apostle Paul desired to preach God’s Word in Asia, he was hindered from doing so (Acts 16: 6).
The barriers that are permitted to come into our lives come from one or more of three sources – the world, the flesh and the Devil. Let us consider six common barriers that come into the lives of God’s people, barriers that can undermine our consecration to God, unless we overcome them:
Time is an important element in God’s Plan. He does everything in His own “due time,” according to His own definite and pre-arranged Plan. He expects His children to follow His good example in the proper accounting of their time (Psalm 90: 12) (Ephesians 5: 15, 16). When we present to Him our human all (Romans 12: 1), it includes everything we have. Therefore, as respects our time, we dedicate it all to God, and He entrusts it to us as His stewards, to use it fruitfully in His service.
Satan, the world and our fleshly desires will make the misuse and abuse of time a barrier, a hindrance (1 Thessalonians 2: 18), to our faithful use of it in the Lord’s service. Our time is short and precious, and not to be wasted, but to be used carefully and wisely in order to attain the glorious reward of the calling to which God has so graciously invited us.
The Apostle Paul declared in Colossians 3: 2, “Set your affection on things above [the things of God’s Kingdom], not on things on the earth.”
Let us follow our Lord’s example, who was always about His Father’s business, and whose meat was to do the Father’s will (Luke 2: 49) (John 4: 34).
There are many humanitarian good works, but they can divert attention and consume time which has been consecrated to another and higher use. Humanitarian good works for man’s rehabilitation will soon be properly and effectively accomplished in “the times of restitution” (Acts 3: 19-21). Besides, there are others engaged in these works, who do not have the higher calling and service given to us.
Unfaithfulness in our consecration will bring in a space barrier between us and our Heavenly Father, our Lord Jesus and our brethren. The space barrier may begin with a looking back longingly for the things left behind. That may lead to a measurable drawing back from our full devotion to God. In a parable, our Lord shows His disapproval of those who, when they have heard the Word of the Kingdom, go forth in consecrated efforts, but allow cares, riches, pleasures and selfish desires of this life to hinder their progress, and they bring forth no fruit to perfection (Mark 4: 18, 19) (Luke 8: 14).
The space barrier may also come between them and the brethren. They gradually cool off in their warmth of spirit and are apt to become discontented and critical, even forsaking church assemblies (Hebrews 10: 25), and finding themselves more in accord with the people and things of this world. For example, note the case of Demas (2 Timothy 4: 10). They may then pray less frequency, even quitting altogether (1 Peter 3: 7).
Although this is a sad state, we have a merciful God, who is willing to forgive and restore us upon repentance (James 4: 8-10).
Earning income and acquiring material things can become a barrier, if they are used for selfish gratification. The consecrated should keep in mind that whatever they acquire of money, goods or other benefits is not their own, but belongs to the Lord, to be faithfully used as His stewards. The Apostle Paul exhorted, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil: which some reaching after have been led away from the faith, and have pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Timothy 6: 7-12, American Standard Version, ASV).
One erects an economic barrier between himself and God if he devotes his consecrated time, attention, influence and energy to the amassing of wealth or other earthly advantages beyond his reasonable needs and to the best interests of God’s cause. On the other hand, a similar economic barrier may be erected if he neglects to use that which is in his hand in God’s service, giving liberally of all that he has beyond the reasonable provision for the needs of himself and his dependents. Let us not follow the example of the foolish man in the parable, who laid up treasure for himself and was not rich toward God (Luke 12: 13-21).
Some may feel that they have an economic barrier between themselves and God because they are so poor that there is little or nothing beyond their temporal needs to use in God’s service. Such should remember that God looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16: 7) and rewards accordingly (2 Corinthians 8: 11, 12) (2 Corinthians 9: 7).
The natural tendency of intelligence, knowledge and education, without sufficient development in humility and love, tends toward pride (1 Corinthians 8: 1), and thus erects a barrier between himself and God, “for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (1 Peter 5: 5). Such should recognize that whatever knowledge we have acquired is not our own invention, but is a gift from God, received through His Word, for He is the source and dispenser of all true knowledge and wisdom.
On the other hand, others may feel that there is a barrier to their serving God acceptably and efficiently because of their lack of knowledge and wisdom according to this world’s standards. But such should remember that if they ask God for wisdom, He “giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not” (James 1: 5).
We have all inherited sin and death from Father Adam, but let us not allow this to be a barrier against our coming to God through Christ and serving Them in truth and righteousness. The Psalmist testifies, “Out of the depths have I cried unto thee, O LORD. LORD, hear my voice: let thine ears be attentive to the voice of my supplications” (Psalm 130: 1, 2). Feeling his own shortcomings and longing for full deliverance from every imperfection, and prophesying the bountiful provisions of God’s Plan of salvation through Christ, he adds, “If thou, LORD, shouldest mark iniquities [imputing them to us], O LORD, who shall stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared [reverenced]” (vs. 3, 4). These are blessed assurances when one is conscious of his infirmities, of his being overtaken in faults, for such are freely forgiven through Christ (Romans 8: 1).
Many avoid coming to God because of the environmental barrier; and many who profess Christian discipleship are proving slack and unfaithful in fulfilling their consecration and are thus erecting a barrier between themselves and God. They excuse themselves by blaming it on the godless environment of the present day. It is true that we are living in a generation like unto that of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19: 1-25) (Luke 17: 28-30), but God is looking only for faithful and strong characters who overcome despite the obstacles, temptations and fiery trials that He permits for their testing. The Apostle Paul exhorts, “Be not ye therefore partakers with them. . . . Walk as children of light. . . . Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5: 3-14).
Let us continue against all barriers, all hindrances, to “Fight the good fight of faith,” and thus to “lay hold on eternal life” (1 Timothy 6: 12).