By Rev. Judith T. Lester, B.Min. M.Th.
“But we will not boast of authority we do not have. Our goal is to stay within the boundaries of God’s plan for us…”
– 2 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
In response to our readers’ request, we will begin the New Year discussing the topic of boundaries. As we walk through this topic, we will learn that respecting God’s prescribed boundaries is healthy for our souls and establishing boundaries with others is crucial in our relationships with others.
This week we will begin with discussing God’s prescribed boundaries. Some people think of the Bible and Christianity as a set of rules, a list of “dos” and “don’ts” that somehow stifle a person’s freedom. But that’s not how God intends it to be. Christianity isn’t about rules. It’s about a relationship, a relationship with God’s Son, Jesus Christ and God’s Word. You can say the Bible is our security fence. In it God has set the limits for us and given us certain directions for life. Actually, the purpose of boundaries is to teach, not to punish. It is through limits and boundaries that God’s people begin to understand that their actions (positive or negative) result in predictable consequences. In His Word God outlines harmful behaviors and beneficial behaviors. He tells us what actions will get us in trouble and what actions will lead to blessings. By giving such choices and consequences, it provides God’s people with a structure for good, godly decision making. In other words, it is our choice whether or not we will stay within the boundaries God has established. If we choose to live over the edge, there will be consequences.
In Proverbs 30:5 we are reminded that every word of God is pure. Every word of God has been tested and proven in the furnace of man’s experience and His promises are a shield to them that put their trust in God. God’s word is here to protect us. God is not trying to spoil our fun. He’s trying to keep us safe from the evil of this world. That’s not a bad thing. It really is a good thing.
The next time you begin to think about the Bible as a set of rules and regulations just waiting to be broken, remember God loves you and He gives boundaries to protect you. In Isaiah 55:8 God says: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways.” The bottom line is God’s ways are not your ways, nor can you change them to make them your ways. Accepting God’s imposed limitations will bring a happier life because you can be assured that God’s limitations will protect you and guide you toward what is best for you.
Beloved, when it comes to personal and relational boundaries with others, it is YOUR responsibility to define those boundaries and reinforce them. You must guard your boundaries carefully so others do not presume they can tell you what to think, feel or do. It is your responsibility to be clear with others about what you will tolerate, and what you won’t tolerate. These boundaries clarify expectations, much like rules in a game. These boundaries also help to create predictability and stability in a relationship. Many relational problems concern boundaries — or more specifically, the lack of boundaries. Since many people have problems setting personal boundaries, our focus for the balance of the month will be focused on setting relational boundaries.
Next Week: Setting Boundaries With Friends
The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in these articles, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. Rather, the objective is strictly informative and educational. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.