There is a major confusion among Christians on the difference between loving your neighbor and enabling them. We chide ourselves for being selfish when we feel annoyed at the friend calling us to help yet again, we believe that we should be self-sacrificing with our time and say yes to everything and everyone who needs us.
Being compliant on the outside when feeling helplessly torn on the inside creates resentment in the heart. Not having boundaries results in the depletion of our joy and surprisingly strains our relationship with God.
Jesus did not come to make us spineless doormats. He came that we might have a life of abundance to the point of overflow through being filled with the power of the Holy Spirit to emulate the character of Jesus.
Studying how Jesus handled daily situations is the best way to learn how to truly behave like a Christian (Christ imitator.) Jesus had great boundaries. Setting boundaries is important because it trains people how to treat you.
Christian Psychologist, Dr. Henry Cloud compares us to a residential property. If a home doesn’t have fences or doors, people can trample on your grass, ride their bikes through your flowers and let their animals wreak havoc in your yard. Burglars wouldn’t even have to break in since there was no door. Neighbors would come over unexpectedly and wouldn’t even have to knock because they had been conditioned to just let themselves in.
How is that analogy playing out in your life right now? Do you feel like you have to say yes to everything? Do you feel guilty for saying no or even afraid that you won’t be needed anymore or unbearable conflict would arise?
Here are 4 biblical truths to help you set Godly boundaries in your life. Many of this teaching is based on the book, Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud.
1. Develop The Control of Your Self-Property:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love,joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:23-23
Being a pleaser is usually someone who is compliant on the outside and resentful on the inside and does not practice the spirit of self-control. Just like God doesn’t force anyone to change, you can’t force anyone to change either. However, you are in control of the property of you. As a protector of your heart and its’ treasures, you absolutely have the right to accept or not accept certain behavior on your emotional property. You can’t change anyone or force them to change, but you can maintain the boundaries of your self-property and let them know that their behavior is not acceptable with you.
2. Guard Your Heart.
Above all else, guard your heart, for from it flows the wellspring of life. –Proverbs 4:23
Although Jesus said that we should operate as a unified community, there are always separate properties in a community. When properties have fences, they are there to let the good in and keep the bad out. It is important to guard our well-being from intruders or clingers, but equally important to receive goodness, help and love by letting it in through opening the gate.
Jesus also says, “Do not give dogs what is sacred; do not throw your pearls to pigs. If you do, they may trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.” -Matthew 7:6. This means if you’re wisdom, advice and time are not appreciated and valued by someone, by all means stop wasting it because you will eventually be hurt and left broken.
3. Know the Difference Between A Boulder and a Load:
This is my favorite one. Carry each other’s burdens,” says Galatians 6:2, “and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” This verse shows our responsibility to one another. Verse 5 goes on to say, that “each one should carry his own load.” The greek words for “burden” and “load” gives us insight into how to apply this to setting Godly boundaries.
The greek word for burden means, “excess burden” or burdens so heavy they weigh us down. This is when we are responsible to helping someone carry weight they can not carry on their own.
The greek word for “load” is “cargo” or burden of daily toil. These are the daily responsibilities that need to be carried out in order to function in life.
In this scripture, Jesus is calling us to help people do what they can not do for themselves, because that is what he did for us. However, we are each responsible for doing what we are capable of doing.
A good deciphering rule of thumb is to ask yourself if you are being asked to do something they are not able to do or to do something they don’t want to do
There is danger in confusing helping someone with an excess burden and enabling a daily toil. Stepping in and not allowing someone to take responsibility for their self-property (self-control) takes away the natural opportunity to be empowered or sharpened in crisis.
4. Check Your Motives
If you are driven to do something out of any motive other than pure love and to bring glory to God… don’t do it at all.
Many of us know that we are being taken advantage of, even by the sweetest, most well-meaning people. Yet, we continue to drive ourselves crazy, dropping everything in order to come to their aid. Why do we do this? Some of us fear that if we stop helping, we will no longer be needed or will cause conflict and therefore will be discarded.
Here is a remedy for a fear of rejection or disrupted peace:
“Whatever town or village you enter, search there for some worthy person and stay at their house until you leave. As you enter the home, give it your greeting. If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you. If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” Matt 10:11-14.
Jesus told his followers if a town rejects you, leave the town and shake the dust off your feet. He doesn’t tell them to stay and take abuse.
Setting boundaries is not being mean, it’s having self-respect. You cannot effectively love if you do not sustain your mental, emotional and spiritual health. Be prepared that some people will not adapt to your new boundaries well, which is fine. If someone leaves you because of your boundaries, then that was not a healthy relationship in the first place and you need to let the “bad” out of your fence to make room for the good to come in.
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