Boundaries are important in every facet of life. This is something I am constantly reminded of during my day-to-day encounters. I had yet another reminder as my dog Max was nearly bit by an unleashed uncontrolled dog. The dog owner apologized as per usual, but this wasn’t the first time this very same dog came after mine as we took our daily walk. The question that continues to be posed to me every time I encounter a “free” dog is the same one—if we love someone or something, should we not want what we love to be protected with boundaries?
For some, there is this old saying that if we love something, we let it go—that if it loves us it will return to us. That is a wonderful saying; however, there is more to that statement. The real question is how we love first. Yes, if we love something—with a love like God demonstrated—then the freedom thereafter follows. It would mean that just as God loved, we love—and it would mean that as God gives us free will, then we respect each person (or dogs) free will thereafter. But with every relationship there should be boundaries, expectations, an order. This is biblical. This is loving. This is what God did and does still today. If we truly love something, we would want the protection. Being free without the protection is not love. It’s folly. It’s ludicrous.
When we look at the Bible, we see covenants. This was a way for relationships to have clear understandings of expectations and boundaries. Kings did this with nations. People did this with other people. God did this with His people and His covenant is still in place with us even today. This is something we should continue if we want to function with harmony and order. This means dogs have suitable containment and leashes. This means having expectations and boundaries for relationships – family members, friendships, dating/spouse relationships. As parents, we give children a set of rules and permissions because we love our children and want the best for them. This is actually freedom. With all relationships, when we have these perimeters, we have a hedge of protection over what matters to us. Yes, there will be times people, and dogs, will overstep the boundaries and we should want to respond with grace and truth. In the end, love wins. Let us be a people of love. Let us be a people who speaks clearly, loves deeply, act in wisdom, and live for His glory!
“The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” – Psalm 16:5-11 [ESV]
I have always tried to be a reliable person, but I’ve failed like everyone does from time to time. We cannot always do what we desire to do in life. The Bible says for our yes to be yes, for our no to be no. This makes things very black and white. This is something that helps us to be a person of integrity. People see our consistency. People trust our reliability. We are a better witness to Christ Jesus when we let our yes be yes, and our no be no. Our word is trusted.
The Bible tells us that when we are given much, much is then required. We have a responsibility. It is not always an easy responsibility, but we can rest in these black and white boundaries. If we are a people who do our best to have our yes mean yes and our no mean no, we are not setting ourselves up for failure. We will be seen as someone with reliability. Our words and deeds will be more likely be trusted. We will glorify the Father more by the consistency in our lives.
Don’t grieve over your past failures. I have said “yes” many times and something came up that shook things up. Take time to respond with wisdom and truth when asked to serve in a new ministry. Will you have the time? Is this where God is leading you? With the responsibility you have been given, understand you will have to say yes to some things, and no to others. There is no allowance for a yes man in ministry. When you zero in and say yes to the things God is leading you to do, you will find that serving is a joy, and there will be fruit from the reliability of your word. Remember it is not the yes or the no that matters. It all comes down to giving God the glory He alone deserves. It all comes down to pointing to Him.
“When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.” – Luke 12:48 [NLT]
I am not much of a runner; however, I have been blessed over the past few years to watch my daughter run for Cross Country. She loves running Cross Country. Running the race, is not simply about being the winner—as there can only be one—but also about beating a personal record or P.R., as the experienced runners know it to be called. My daughter was always about beating her P.R., but recently she has been held back. The thing she loved most about running, that time alone to clear her mind and reconnect, was not happening because she couldn’t focus.
My daughter’s friend wanted to move up and join the high school practices due to transportation issues. The friend is a bit slower and loves to talk more than my daughter (I didn’t think that was possible). The practices no longer were about body conditioning, preparing for the season. The runs were no longer a time of peace and enjoyment. My daughter found herself being held back, running at a slower pace. With her friend’s gift of gab, they also were missing some instructions for some of the practice runs. This caused them to get lost a few times, run shorter or longer courses, and my daughter unnecessary stress. My daughter and I had a long talk about boundaries and goals.
Friends are great. Relationships are important. In life, we have a choice who we invest our lives in. We also have a choice of who we surround ourselves with and we have a choice of priorities. Jesus should have first place in our lives. The Bible tells us to love God and love others, to go and make disciples, to serve—we have choices to make to see these things through. Paul wrote that we should give everything our best as if for the Lord. All is for His glory. When we allow ourselves to be held back, for our focus to drift, if we surround ourselves with people who will constantly keep us from being where God wants us, we are not properly aligned. Today, reflect on God’s will for your life. Consider your relationships. Look at the boundaries you have in your life so that you are able to pursuit the goals God placed before you. Above all, make sure you connect with Him today—in His Word and in prayer.
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” – Colossians 3:17 [NLT]
In Nehemiah 10, the people are agreeing to a covenant. A covenant is something we see many times in the Bible. A covenant is also known as a partnership, an alliance. I always like to consider it as a promise which outlines a relationship’s boundaries. When we look at a covenant between God and His people, we can see that it is a spiritual agreement.
The process of entering into a covenant is interesting. It was something pagans participated in, as well as the Jewish people. First, it is important to note the pre-ceremony actions. This is a time when the different sides discussed terms. We see this happening in Genesis 15 between God and Abraham. There is also a time of representative selections. With regard to the Abrahamic Covenant, God and Abraham were the representatives. During the covenant process, there is typically an exchange of belts, weapons, or robes. Then there is the walk unto death part of the process. This is where the people walk around the sacrifice and basically say, “Do so to me as has been done to this animal if I break this covenant.” We see God doing this with Abraham in Genesis 15:17, as the smoking fire pot and flaming torch pass through. There is a pronouncement of blessings and curses, an exchange of names, and a covenant meal to share as part of the covenant sealing process. We cannot forget the seal of the covenant, where we have a sign of the covenant that will be remembered. For Noah, it was the Rainbow. For Moses, it was the Sabbath.
It is awesome to study about covenants, but it is most important for us to understand these covenants with the vantage point of the New Covenant. Remember friends, we entered into a New Covenant. Jesus is our representative (Son of Man), God’s representative (Son of God), and He was the sacrifice (Lamb of God). He took off His robe of glory to come to us, and we now have His righteousness (Philippians 2:5-7). Jesus’ walk unto death was His walk from Gethsemane to the Cross. The sign of the New Covenant is a circumcised heart (Romans 2:28-29). As you share in the Lord’s Supper, and one day as you share in the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, you are sharing the covenant meal. Today, thank God for the New Covenant, and most important, for our Representative and Sacrifice, Jesus Christ.