What is our motivation for setting and sticking to boundaries? Is it to serve ourselves, or to honour God through what we do? And how do we view boundaries in our minds? Are they restrictions to our desires or protections from things that would harm us?
Our answers to these questions will have a large impact on our success in staying on the right side of our boundaries, and ultimately on our happiness and our relationship with God.
To be clear, boundaries are there to keep us safe. And, if we set them carefully, we know we will be kept away from all the negative things we can bring on ourselves through wrong choices, as well as protecting others around us.
If we want to live lives that please God, and focus on what honours Him, then we won’t want to push those boundaries. We will be happy to maintain them in the knowledge that we have a definite ‘stopping point’ which we know we will not cross.
If, however, we have set boundaries so we can get away with as much as possible, so we can go right up to the line and still feel okay about what we are doing, and so we can fulfil our own desires as much as possible without thought about whether we are pleasing God or not, then we are asking for trouble.
That mindset is about ourselves and our thoughts and will, therefore, inevitably turn towards what else we can get out of a situation. This makes it very easy to justify crossing the boundary we are constantly pushing up against because our thinking is based on self and the boundary begins to seem like a barrier to our happiness rather than a protection to our souls.
The reality is that when we try to get away with as much as possible, we will inevitably cross the line – and then eventually cross others as well. It always happens, which is why the Bible makes it clear we should flee from temptation. If we stay far from the boundary’s edge, even if we know that technically we can go closer to it, we will be staying in a place where the temptation is lesser. You may still be tempted, but you will have moved as far from it as possible and so its pull will be greatly reduced. And that’s what it’s about… living a holy life in a place far from the temptation which calls you away from holiness.
So, what is your motivation for setting boundaries, and how do you view them now?
Are they restrictive lines to be pushed and stretched because you want to act on your desires or are they protective fences to be given a wide birth because they signal an area we should go nowhere near for our own good and for the glory of God?
Why not consider today how you view the boundaries in your life and, if necessary, ask God to help you change your perspective so that they change from being restrictions to protections in your mind.
Ask God to give you a desire to honour Him in all you do rather than wanting to be self-serving instead. When we change our perspective and our motivation, a change in our behaviour often follows, as our actions become aligned with our thinking.
The Bible says ‘Be transformed by the renewing of your mind’ (Romans 12 v 2) and this is a great example of where that can take place in our lives. It’s a question of whether our motivation is based on serving self or honouring God. Boundaries really can become lines we respect and avoid rather than pushed and ignored. This really can be the reality for everyone… if we want it to be. Even if we have crossed boundaries before, it’s never too late to re-think HOW we think – you can start honouring God as you protect yourself right now.
[Continue this series in Part four when published]