While waiting for the lift to arrive just outside my front door, I noticed a neighbour staring at me strangely. “Is there something on my face?” I wondered. Then, suddenly, it dawned on me—something was missing from my face—my mask!
Has this happened to you before? I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve stepped out of my home without a mask, and had to run back to get one.
As the battle against COVID-19 continues, we are constantly reminded to keep our guard up and maintain three basic disciplines: wear a mask, clean our hands, and keep a safe distance. All these are simple but effective ways to protect us against the coronavirus.
This practice of watchfulness is something we can apply to our walk with God as well, don’t you think? 1 Peter 5:8 warns us: “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
This stark description of who our “enemy” is, is a good reminder for me. While I sometimes worry about fighting my own laziness and procrastination, I often forget this spiritual reality—that the devil himself is always seeking to distract me from devotion to God, discourage me in my discipleship, and made me ineffective in His service. It takes effort to remain watchful.
Just as we protect ourselves against COVID-19 by wearing a mask, cleaning our hands, and keeping a safe distance, perhaps we can use these three things to guard our walk with God, too:
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” — Psalm 119:11
Just as a mask shields us from breathing in droplets infected with coronavirus, we need God’s Word to shield our hearts and minds from absorbing the harmful values and opinions around us. This “mask” helps us to avoid sinning against God and growing cold in our walk with Him. How about trying to memorise one Bible verse each day, and let it guard your thoughts and actions throughout the day?
“Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord? Who may stand in his holy place? The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” — Psalm 24:3–4
Just as we are reminded to keep our hands physically clean in the fight against COVID-19, God wants us to keep our hands spiritually clean too. And truly clean hands come from a heart that is truly pure. In other words, God desires purity both in our outer and inner lives, both in our conduct and character. Let us be found to be devoted to Him and Him alone, and not to idols such as money, career, or another person, for it is only in Him that we will find true satisfaction and security. Let us keep our hands and hearts clean each day.
“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers.” — Psalm 1:1
Everywhere, whether we are in a queue, in the lift, or in a supermarket, we are reminded to keep a safe distance. Staying clear of possible sources of infection (especially when someone might not show any symptoms of COVID-19) will reduce our risk of being infected. In the same way, we need to limit our exposure to bad and infectious influences that can draw us away from God. The habits and thinking of people we are in close contact with can rub off on us, as can the ideas that we absorb through the books we read and the shows we watch. While we cannot live in a vacuum, we can watch what or whom we are close to.
We can look to God to protect us from the devil, who, like a prowling lion, is always looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). But we have a part to play, too—to “be alert and of sober mind”. Let us continue to keep our guard up and be watchful in our relationship with God, that we may stay spiritually pure and safe.