What is a Gatekeeper?

Published on 6 February 2024 at 06:00

Gatekeepers are mentioned quite a bit in the Old Testament.  There were both gatekeepers of the temple and gatekeepers of the cities.  The city or temple would be surrounded by a wall.  And the gate was the only way in or out.  The gatekeeper would be tasked with controlling who went in and out.  They were responsible for keeping the bad out and letting the good in.  Gatekeepers were vitally important to OT life.  If a gatekeeper was not vigilant, he could allow the destruction of the entire city.

We are all tasked with being gatekeepers, letting virtuous things into our lives and homes and keeping the evil out.  We are to be gatekeepers of our hearts, gatekeepers of our homes, and gatekeepers for our children.  Parents also need to teach their children how to be gatekeepers of their own hearts.  


But what is my motivation behind being a gatekeeper?  It sounds like a hard job.  Let me give you some examples of good and bad gatekeepers to help you find your why behind gatekeeping.  A bad example would be a gatekeeper who goes through the motions, but her heart really isn’t in her gatekeeping role.  She is like the hired hand.   “But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them.  The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep.” John 10:12-13.  The hireling flees because he only cares about himself.

But, I think I can safely say that if you are reading this, you are not like a hireling.  We all have precious souls that we love with all our hearts and that’s our why behind being a gatekeeper.  We know that each of our children is an amazing blessing from God.  “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.” Psalm 127:3  For many of us, our children were connected to our body for 9 months.  We care deeply about them and over-research decisions surrounding their care.  We sacrifice our time and energy to raise them to the best of our abilities.  We love them and we don’t want anything to happen to them!  That is why we commit ourselves to standing in the gate and protecting these precious lambs that God has entrusted to us.

Unfortunately, the devil has an abundance of avenues to sneak into our lives and the lives of our children.  He can sneak in through television, social media, books, magazines, fashions, attitudes.  Every time we turn on the television or the computer, we are bombarded with the message to love ourselves and embrace all lifestyles.  We and our children are told that we deserve whatever it is that we want.  Our daughters are encouraged to show off their bodies with their apparel choices, and attitudes of entitlement and knowing better than superiors are praised.  It is more important than ever to stand in the gate and keep the evil out of our lives and out of our homes and let in the good.   Instead of letting in temptations, God urges us to let in God’s Word and all the lovely things that come with it.  “Whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8.  When our home is so filled with Christ, it will affect every aspect of our lives, the lives of our families, and the lives of our visitors.  I can think of three people in my life who are my gatekeeper role models.  When you enter their homes, you immediately feel embraced with the love of Christ.  Christ is so much a part of their lives that they talk of Him in every conversation.  His love in their lives pours over into generosity and kindness toward their guests.  This is what I want for my home.  And this is where our differing gifts come in.  The love of Christ will pour out of each of us in a different way.  Some may pour forth the love of Christ through acts of service, some through gifts, some through encouragement.  But when we are so filled by Christ’s love, love can’t help but pour forth to others.       

Qualities of a Gatekeeper

Now that we understand the importance of being a Gatekeeper, let’s examine some qualities of a gatekeeper and compare them to our roles in our homes.  A gatekeeper must be alert!  God pleads with all of us to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” 1 Peter 5:8.  It’s easy to think, “Oh, it's just a movie, It won’t affect my faith”  or “My daughter just wants to fit in; it’s fine if she doesn’t always wear modest clothing all the time” or “She’s just disrespectful because she’s a teenager.  It’s normal.”  The devil is not harmless.  He is seeking to devour us and our children!  And he’s sneaky about it!  He gets a foot through the gate with seemingly harmless sins, and just chips away at our faith and our children’s faith.  Be vigilant like a gatekeeper!

A gatekeeper must be strong and courageous.  He can’t just slump in the doorway and quietly tell the bad guys to go away or else.  He must be strong and ready to fight to protect his city.  God also tells us, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.  God tells us to be strong and of good courage, but notice it's not up to us to be strong on our own.  If it were, we would fail.  We can be strong and brave gatekeepers, battling in spiritual warfare, because the Lord is with us wherever we go!  He is battling on our side. 

A gatekeeper also needs to keep watch for the return of the King!  The King will fire him at once if he comes and finds him sleeping.  So too for us, God tells us to keep watch for his return. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”  Mark 13:32-37.  As in this parable, our homes are the King’s territory.  And we are watching over the King’s subjects.  We answer to the King for His precious souls.  And I don’t say this to lay on the guilt.  I only make this comparison to show how important it is that we cultivate a spirit of readiness for Christ’s return in our homes.  We want our homes to be ready for Christ’s return!

Finally, a gatekeeper must be discerning.  He needs to be able to determine if the person requesting entrance is good or evil.  And here we come to our theme passage.  This is such a beautiful prayer for ourselves and for our children because it really encapsulates every aspect of life.   “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” Philippians 1:9-11  Let’s break this down because it’s so rich.  First of all, Paul prays that their love may abound in knowledge and discernment.  Love without spiritual judgment can do more harm than good.  I think of parenting here.  (The loving Mom who just wants to be friends with her kid, so she never disciplines him)  The love that Paul is praying for is love that abounds in knowledge and discernment.  It abounds in the knowledge of the Word and discernment in how to apply that Word.  That love is a rich, blessed, and selfless love.  This type of love, rooted in Christ’s love, is able to “approve the things that are excellent.”  This type of discerning love is able to “fill them with the fruits of righteousness.”  And isn’t gatekeeping one of those fruits of righteousness?  It’s something that we can do to the glory and praise of God!  May all of our prayers be that our love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment!   

But, where do we get that knowledge and discernment?  Wisdom includes both knowledge and discernment.  And James tells us, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” James 1:5.  God promises to give us Wisdom if we ask for it!  But remember a conversation requires a two way street.  Prayer is only us talking to God.  The other half of the conversation happens when God speaks to us through His Word.  So, pray for wisdom and delve into God’s Word to receive the answer to that prayer!  

So I hope you have a picture now of what it means to be a gatekeeper of your home.  It is not a slack job.  It is vital, and it is hard.  I look at this picture of a gatekeeper and I think, I can never measure up to that.  I will fall asleep, I will let down my guard and the devil will creep in, I will cause the ruin of my kingdom!  But guess what, spoiler alert.  You don’t need to guard the gates alone.  God will use you, but it is actually He that is guarding your gates.  "Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the Lord guards the city, The watchman stays awake in vain.  It is vain for you to rise up early, To sit up late, To eat the bread of sorrows; For so He gives His beloved sleep.”  Psalm 127:1-2  Build your home on the Lord, it will fall if you try to build it yourself.  Ask the Lord to guard your gates.  Without Him, you will stay awake and try to guard your gates, and you will fail.  With Him, your gate will be secure because He will fill in all the areas in which you fail because of your weakness.

Let’s go back to the hireling example.  The verse before the hireling section reads. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”  John 10:11.  This is the direct opposite of the hireling who doesn't own the sheep.  Jesus gave His life for the sheep!  We talked about how much we deeply care for our children.  But Jesus cares even more.  Look at the lengths he went to redeem you and your children!  If He gave His life to redeem you and your children from the devil, He is not going to let the devil get you back.  He will guard your gates and hold you and your children in His hands.

“Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” I Corinthians 15:56-57.

If your labor is in the Lord, it will not be in vain.  Your prayers for your children and your husband will be effective!  Your daily personal and family devotion will bless you and your family.  Christ will make you vigilant, strong, courageous, and alert.  The Holy Spirit working through the means of grace will fill you with wisdom and discerning love.  He will be your strength.  He has already crushed your enemy, and He will help you guard your gates.  Build your home on Christ’s love, and that love will overflow to your children, your husband, and your guests.  Your home will be a beautiful place to be, and the Word that is present in your home will strengthen all who enter it. 

May God bless your gatekeeping!

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Jane Murch
5 months ago

How beautiful, well-thought-out, meaningful, thought provoking, convicting, and encouraging! You have a God-given gift, Tamar!