Yesterday, I wrote about the difference between a watchman and a lookout. I said the main difference between the two is the motive they have; one serves to protect from crime, and the other serves to facilitate crime. Another word that is similar is "guard." It can be a noun or a verb, whereas the other two always refer to a person. A guard is a person who has been assigned to protect someone or something. There are several examples: the Palace Guard, the National Guard, an Honor Guard, etc. A guard may also be a thing designed to protect something of value: Scotch Guard (for clothing, carpets, furniture, etc.), a sneeze guard (to protect food in a restaurant), splash guards (for vehicles), a guard dog, etc. In any case, a guard is always for the protection of something.
In the Bible, "guard" appears forty-nine times, forty-eight of which are found in the Old Testament. Thirty-five times, it is accompanied by a qualifier (captain of the guard, chief of the guard, etc.). Of the other fourteen, eleven refer to a group of men assigned to guard someone or something. There are a couple of lessons we can learn from this: one, a guard has a leader who is responsible for those assigned to him; and two, the responsibility of guarding something or someone requires more than one person. If I apply these to the local church, I would identify the pastor as the "captain of the guard," and the elders as his "soldiers."
In the family, the husband/father is to be the "captain of the guard." Jesus has voluntarily submitted to the Father, and the Father made Him to be head over the Church (Phil. 2:5-8; Eph. 1:22). The Christian husband has submitted to the authority of Christ, Who then made him to be responsible for the provision and protection of the family. His Word says that "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim. 5:8).
A father does not have to be a Christian to be responsible for the protection and provision of his family. Millions, perhaps billions of men accept the responsibility for those things. A Christian father has an additional responsibility; he is to be a role model, to demonstrate Christ-like behavior as he raises his children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:4). Nothing provokes a child faster than having to submit to a father who does not "practice what he preaches" (Col. 3:21). If he is to train up his child in the way he should go, he has to leave footprints along that path for his children to follow.
The qualifications of a good guard are a willingness to submit to the "Captain of the guard," to be alert to the needs of those for whom he stands guard, and to recognize any threat that endangers those for whom he is assigned to guard. As a pastor, that is your flock. As a father, that is your family. As a Christian, that is your own heart and mind (Phil. 4:5-7). Be a faithful guard, because one day Jesus will ask, "What kind of guard were you?"