Boundaries

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Boundaries – Exposure

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If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. Matthew 18:15 (ESV)

Our boundaries must be visible and communicated to others in relationship. Secret boundaries harm relationships.

Our first tendency upon setting a boundary is to keep it a secret, in case other people might judge us. But it is difficult for others to respect our boundaries if they don’t know what they are. By clearly communicating our boundaries to others, our relationship can either grow or become a relationship limited to specific situations. In either case, you are able to maintain your boundaries because all parties understand what they are.

Boundaries – Activity

“The master said, ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ “Then the servant with the one bag of silver came and said, ‘Master, I knew you were a harsh man, harvesting crops you didn’t […]

Boundaries – Envy

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Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. Galatians 6:4 (NLT)

When we envy others, we don’t focus on our own responsibilities and will eventually have an empty heart. The opposite of envy is contentment. When we are content with our responsibilities, our gifts, our blessings, we can remain focused on fulfilling our responsibilities, using our gifts, and appreciating our blessings. This keeps us in God’s will and leads to continued spiritual growth.

Boundaries – Proactivity

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For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another. Galatians 5:15-17 (NLT)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. Matthew 5:38-39 (NIV)

Proactive people are known by what they love; reactive people are known by what they hate. Reaction may be the first step to establishing and maintaining my boundaries, as I react against the bad. But I don’t want to stay in reactive mode, because that leads to continual conflict. Instead, I want to be favorably disposed toward every one I encounter. As I live in freedom rather than being controlled by the law, I can bring the truth in a way that is graceful and leading to restoration.

Boundaries – Evaluation

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No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. Hebrews 12:11 (NLT)

Maintaining our boundaries can hurt others, but that is not the same as harming them. So being able to evaluate the consequences of our response to a situation is vital. Confronting those who would violate our boundaries can be painful (to us or to them), not unlike parental discipline, but as long as it doesn’t cause harm, good can come from it. In that way, we can bless others by maintaining our boundaries.

Boundaries – Motivation

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For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline. 2 Timothy 1:7 (NLT)

We can be motivated by fear, which is bad, or love, which is good. If you serve to get free from your fear, you are dooming yourself to failure. So whether we fear loss of love, the anger of others, guilt, or something else, it is better to choose freedom first, and then serve others. Listen as Jason elaborates.

Boundaries – Respect

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Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12 (NLT)

If we don’t respect others’ boundaries, we judge them, and our boundaries will also be judged. If we respect their boundaries, they are more likely to respect ours as well. As we deal with each other, we have to do so with gentleness and respect. Our relationship will grow at the pace that we are both moving; unless we are the slower one, we cannot hurry the process. Father, protect and guide us on this journey. Amen.

Boundaries – Power

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“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you, leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.” Matthew 5:23-24 (NLT)

In and of myself, I am powerless, but in his grace God gives me the power to do a number of things to establish and maintain my boundaries. First, he gives me power to agree with the truth about my condition (confession). In addition, he gives me power to submit my inability to God (submission), to search and ask God to reveal more and more of what is within my boundaries (growth/learning), to turn from the evil I find within myself (repentance), and to ask God and others to help me to heal from my past (humility). Finally, he gives me power to seek out those I have injured and make amends (restitution). In these ways the Holy Spirit acts in my life to bring me into a healthy relationship with both God and others.

Boundaries – Responsibility

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Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. Philippians 2:12b-13 (NLT)

Many problems in life arise when we confuse boundaries of responsibility — we are to love one another, we cannot be one another. My responsibility is to bless you, but I cannot control you. I am responsible only for my conduct, my obedience, my surrender to God. I can advise and encourage you in your walk with God, but how you listen to and obey God is your responsibility. But thanks be to God, He has empowered each of us to walk with Him in love and obedience.

Boundaries – Sowing and Reaping

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Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. Galatians 6:7 (ESV)

Boundaries keep us from disrupting the law of sowing and reaping in other people’s lives. God allows us to reap what we sow, so that when we act in ungodly ways, the natural consequences will push us back to God. If we “save” others from those consequences, we short-circuit this process, and prevent them from learning the lesson God would have us learn. May God help us discern the difference between these natural consequences of sin and the testing of our faith that is intended to strengthen us.