Building Hedges

Have you ever visited a beautiful formal garden such as the Bellingrath Gardens in Mobile, AL, the Missouri Botanical Garden or the Garvin Woodland Gardens in Hot Springs? If you have, what is one thing common to most formal gardens? Hedges. What is the purpose of a hedge? A hedge is a line of closely spaced shrubs and/or trees planted and trained to form a barrier or to mark the boundary of an area. Therefore a hedge is a good thing—right? When used correctly, a hedge is a good thing. But when it is used/placed incorrectly, a hedge is not a good thing. So, how can a hedge be used/placed incorrectly? A hedge, let’s say traditions that we have practiced in our churches for years  used as a buffer zone against any kind of change, can become a hindrance to the will of God being done. Traditions are good, but we should not used them to resist God’s will for our lives. Jesus, in Mark 7:13, told the Pharisees that they “revoke God’s Word by your tradition that you have handed down.” Again in Matthew 23:23, He told them that they gave a tenth of mint, dill and cummin, but they had “neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy, and faith.” They should have been giving of their resources, but they should also have not neglected the teachings of justice, mercy and faith. They had only been practicing their traditions—a way of life handed down for generations that ensured the appearance of righteousness in place of following God’s commandments, which pointed the way to righteousness. They had set up a hedge around God’s commands, thus breaking the commands of God for the sake of their traditions. (Matt. 15:3) Any time that we try to obtain righteousness through our own works, we are putting a hedge around God’s grace. Marilyn Meberg stated, “I certainly don’t overtly resist the concept of grace, but I’ve tried to earn it a million times. I seem to cling to the mistaken notion that I’ve got to be good enough in order to deserve grace.” Another Christian author wrote, “When we reach the end of our strength, wisdom and personal resources, we enter into the beginning of His glorious provisions. And that’s a wondrous place to be.” (Patsy Clairmont) Are we guilty of putting a hedge around the grace of God? Do we unintentionally keep His great love and grace to ourselves by not following His command to “Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.”? (Matt. 22:9) If we are not extending His love and mercy to everyone, then we are guilty of hedging in that love and mercy. Let us not be guilty of so doing. Let us be busy about God’s work spreading that love and grace to everyone with whom we come into contact whether they be the same culture, ethnicity, society level or whatever that we are. That is God’s command to us in Matt. 28:19&20 which reads: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you always, to the very end of the age.”

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