There are lots of articles and books about boundaries. Do you wonder why boundaries are important? Is it just another “buzz” word, or is there something to it? What does God think about boundaries? Why would you set them in your life?
Over my decades, I’ve discovered some Christians squirm when you start talking about setting boundaries. That topic seems to provoke issues. Some people become too extreme in setting boundaries. Some use them dysfunctionally. Others have figured out boundaries are necessary when protection is needed. A few realize healthy boundaries help in living a more balanced, intentional life.
If you don’t know why or how to set good boundaries, you are missing a key element for a healthy life. In fact, a lack of good boundaries brings anxiety and other problems.
But the three main reasons to explore boundaries are because the Lord teaches them. Jesus modeled boundaries. God wants you to live a wise, balanced, intentional life as you represent His heart.
The Lord Teaches Setting Boundaries
Most people don’t think of Jesus’ teachings in the light of boundaries. Yet, God knows that the best-lived life is one that has godly borders – boundaries – in place. If you boil Christ’s teachings down to root principles, often obedience is linked to a boundary. For example, in the parable of the virgins waiting for the bridegroom, half took provisions needed and half did not. Half planned, purchased, prepared, and carried out the plan. When the other half realized they were running out of oil, they asked the wise virgins to share. The wise half refused to share. (Mt. 25) Interesting! Not share? Hmmm. Is that even Christ-like?
Not sharing is not the issue here; foolishly giving away God’s provision for you (and compromising your priorities) is. Not accepting what God has already put into place on your behalf shows a disrespect for who God is and a disregard for what He has done for you. It even smacks of personal pride. In fact, if the wise virgins had given away the resources they gathered, they would have missed the dearest thing to their hearts: the bridegroom’s arrival. There is nothing more valuable than receiving Christ in every detail of your life.
Jesus Lived His Entire Life With Boundaries In Place
Jesus was such an effective manager, able to minister and provide a good model for you and me. Here are examples of various boundaries He put into place in His life:
- He only chose 12 disciples to train. If anyone could have trained a million, God could have. But God in a human body wisely limited His time, energy, and resources. What borders are you putting around your time, energy, and resources?
- Jesus did not share His heart with people in certain situations. “But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all people.” (Jn. 2:24) All your life issues start in your heart. Are you guarding your heart? (Prov. 4:23)
- Jesus did not let any person get in the way of God’s will. Among many other intentional things He engaged, Jesus pursued the cross with passion, deliberately setting His course. Are you too concerned about what other people think? Do you live to please God – or to please others/yourself?
- He often withdrew from people for time alone with His Father. Do you welcome “alone-time” with the Lord each day? Do you fill your free time with people and events? Is contentment a struggle?
- By living an ordinary human life with purpose and boundaries, Jesus created room for the miraculous power and provision of God’s “overflow display” in daily human issues. How are you creating room for the overflow of God’s miraculous power and provision in your daily issues?
- Jesus did not let people pressure Him into doing His ministry the way they thought He should – not even His close friends. When Martha sent word to Jesus that Lazarus was very sick, Jesus did not go immediately to save the day. He purposefully waited another two days till His good friend had died. Then He went. Jesus had God’s glory in mind even as He loved His friends. Are you letting people pressure you into decisions and directions that God has not led you in?
- Interestingly, Jesus set clear boundaries particularly around children. “Better to wear a millstone necklace and take a swim in the deep blue sea than give even one of these dear little ones a hard time!” (Lk. 17:2 – The Message) Do you protect children at every level of their little lives? What kind of necklace would God put around your neck?
There are many more examples from Christ’s life. Setting boundaries enabled Jesus to adequately accomplish God’s will and timing. Boundaries brought order and credibility to His work. He also commanded respect from others because of utilizing boundaries.
Setting Healthy Boundaries is Wisdom
Proverbs talks a lot about boundaries and equates those ideas with wisdom. Some examples: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered man. Do not associate with one easily angered.” “A prudent man keeps his knowledge to himself.” “A righteous man is cautious in friendship.” “The highway of the upright avoids evil; he who guards his way guards his soul.” “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.” (Yes, that is also a boundary.) Because God loves you so much, He wants you to have a healthy, balanced life much like a well-tended and watered garden. Are you working to live a balanced life using God’s wise boundaries?
Scripture urges a person who has been wronged to “run to your Fortress!” To your Tower. (Prov 18:10) Get hemmed in. Get behind your rampart. (Synonyms for rampart are: fortification, wall, barricade.) Sounds like boundaries to me. Are you doing your part in protecting your heart by staying hemmed in under God’s safe shadow? *
God’s Word gives direction on setting healthy boundaries. Here is one of the best Scriptures. It deals with the very beginnings – the roots – of where boundaries are needed and set. Scripture’s Thinking Grid.
I hope you choose to take up the Lord’s teaching, His model, and His wisdom.