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]
One of the hardest things is not being so stuck on myself. From the moment we begin life, we are all about self. We look out for ourselves. We want to be fed. We want to be rested. We want to be comfortable. When we learn to talk, we share about ourselves. Self. Self. Self.
When we have conversations, we go from our youthful days of asking questions and trying to learn to enjoying conversations where we talk about our day, our thoughts, our life. We don’t ask questions so much. We don’t fully listen in conversations. Instead we dominate the conversation and only listen to respond.
The Bible tells us to take an interest in others and to want the best for them. This starts with getting to know the heart of a person. Spend time with the person. Listen to them. Build a relationship. Invest in the person. Get to know about the person and be a part of their life. Relationship building is intentional. As you read the Gospel, you will note that Jesus took interest in people. He invested in people. He didn’t look out for His own interests. He sought out the very best for others, all while walking in faithful obedience to the Father. Today, take an interest. Invest. Love others.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” – Philippians 2:4 [NLT]
Boundaries are important. The Bible speaks out in warning of any alignment with non-believers. We read of not making treaties with outsiders. We read about not aligning with those who are non-believers, because if we marry a non-believer it is likely that we will be drawn away. Deuteronomy 12 warns us not to fall into the trap. This trap causes us to be led astray to worshiping other gods.
The Bible tells us to be careful. We read these words often. We must be able to balance our time between people strong in the faith and people who do not know Jesus. We must surround ourselves with these strong, faithfully obedient men and woman for support, encouragement, and accountability. But we also must be able to reach the world by building relationships with those who have not received Christ.
As you go through your day today, remember that there is a trap waiting. Be mindful of the way you spend your time. Make sure you have strong Christians in your life, people who are walking in faithful obedience and who will point you to Jesus Christ, desiring for you to grow deeper with Christ. Also, make sure you are building a relationship with some non-believers. Through your actions, may they be able to see Christ.
“Do not fall into the trap of following their customs and worshiping their gods. Do not inquire about their gods, saying, ‘How do these nations worship their gods? I want to follow their example.’” – Deuteronomy 12:30 [NLT]
“When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, be very careful not to imitate the detestable customs of the nations living there.” – Deuteronomy 18:9 [NLT]
The Bible again and again mentions not making treaties with others. It might seem strange to us because we don’t usually go around making treaties. When we thinking of treaties, we think of government alliances. So what can we glean from all of these verses that tell us to “make no treaties”?
These alliances were seen as being bad because of the consequences the people would face for aligning with these people who did not worship God. The people would eventually lead God’s people to worship other gods. God’s people were to be set apart, to be holy. The people were to be a chosen people. If the people had a close relationship with those who did not follow God, they too, would not follow God. Time and time again, we have seen how the people you surround yourself with makes a big impact on your life.
Applying this to your own life doesn’t mean never being around non-believers. We are called to be out in the world, shining a light. We cannot isolate ourselves. However, we need to be careful who we keep close. Our inner circle should be strong God fearing people. Our close relationships should be with those who love God and will encourage us to love God and love His people. Keep people close who will empower you to live for Jesus, who seek your very best.
“Make no treaties with them or their gods.” – Exodus 23:32 [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]
As we run with Jesus, we continue to build godly relationships.
Godly living starts at home. If you aren’t living godly at home, you won’t succeed in godly living outside of the home.
Paul speaks about the importance of godly relationships in numerous letters.
- Husbands & wives
- Parents & children
- Masters & slaves
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
– Ephesians 5:21 [NIV]
- 18 – Wife put your husband first
- 19 – Husband love wife
- 20 – Children obey parents
- 21 – Parents don’t be hard on children
Husband and Wife (Colossians 3:18-19, Ephesians 5:22-33)
Loving leadership equals mutual respect – Ephesians 5:21
Husband sacrifices (Christ like sacrificial leadership by husband will keep the ultimate good of his wife in view at all times)
Wife submits (honors & affirms his leadership, helps him exercise role in family)
He loves her. He wants the best for her. She knows this and she submits.
- Wife does not practice absolute surrender – that is only to Jesus.
- Wife is not naturally or spiritually inferior
Parents and Children (Colossians 3:20-21, Ephesians 6:1-4)
- Children obey parents in everything as it pleases the Lord
- Parents don’t provoke less they become discouraged and give up
- Parents parent with firm loving guidance – not dictatorship
- Parents encourage – children obey
Bible Study Questions:
1) Read Ephesians 5:31-33.
What does verse 31 say husbands should hold fast to?
Verse 33 says that the man shall ________ the wife and the wife shall __________ the husband. What does this passage mean?
Which command is harder or are they both equal?
2) The Bible says that the man is to love his wife and the woman is to honor her husband. How does love and honor go hand in hand?
3) Regarding parent child relationships, both have responsibilities. Parents are called to ____________ their children. Children are to _______ their parents.
4) How does encouragement and obedience go hand-in-hand?