Pastor Amy looks at how sometimes we need to build fences in our lives to create healthy boundaries. By saying no to some things, we are able to say yes to better things.
How many of you feel perpetually tired? Overwhelmed? Overworked? In hard or taxing relationships? Stretched too thin?
You’re not alone. Many Americans are oversheduled, overinvolved, overextended… we are exhausted and we are BOUNDARY-LESS.
But WE NEED BOUNDARIES. I’m talking about emotional, spiritual, and physical boundaries.
Did you know that boundaries are actually Biblical? Even Jesus had boundaries. Often we think of Jesus as giving everything he had to everyone at all times—but when he ministered on earth he was fully divine AND fully human! He had limitations and because of that he established boundaries. Below are 3 ways we see Jesus establish boundaries while he walked the earth.
1) Relationship with Himself
Jesus made sure his basic needs were met. He rested, ate, slept, spent time alone, and spent time with his close friends. He only had 3 years on earth to establish His kingdom and bring healing and salvation to people yet he spent some of that time SLEEPING?! Being alone!
Jesus knew that in order to pour out, he had to be filled up. He could not do ministry and serve and love people if he was depleted. Unfortunately we often attempt to pour out when we haven’t rested or taken care of some of our own needs. Jesus gives us permission, by his example, to set boundaries that allow us to withdraw for rest, time with dear friends, and time to pray and listen to our Father.
2) Relationship with Others
Do you ever feel like you’re at relational capacity? Between co-workers, friends, neighbors, church, your kids friends and their parents, extended family members, and the people you interact with in the many circles you’re in—we are often overwhelmed in relationships!
Jesus met, touched, healed, and taught thousands of people during his time of ministry on earth but he only invested in 12 people, and even within the 12, there were 3 disciples He was especially close to. Jesus was fully divine AND fully human in his ministry on earth and he had limitations! One of those limitations was the number of people with whom He could have significant relationship. We have the same limitations. Who are we to think we can keep up with so many friendships, family, work and church relationships when even Jesus couldn’t? Jesus gives us permission, by example, to have boundaries in the number of relationships we have.
Not only do we have limitations in the number of relationships we can maintain, but we also have limitations in the kind of relationships we are to handle. Dr. Henry Cloud, explains in his book, Boundaries, that at the center of unhealthy relationships there is always an element of control. Either we are being controlled and manipulated by someone else or we are attempting to control and manipulate someone ourselves. Jesus refused to have these kinds of dynamics in His relationships. The Pharisees attempted to control and manipulate Jesus with baiting questions, making him look foolish in front of others, and questioning his methods of ministry. He did not allow them to change the way he ministered to people or stop Him from establishing His kingdom on earth. We, too, should not engage in controlling relationships where people would like to change our behavior through manipulation and control.
Jesus also never controlled people and still does not. If anyone had the ability to control, manipulate, and coerce people—it would be God. But He does not! Instead we see that Jesus always led in relationship with invitation. He didn’t demand that people follow Him, or try to convince them that He was God – He simply invited people to follow Him and in doing so experience life in the Kingdom of God. We, too, should not be involved in relationships where we attempt to change other people’s behavior through control and manipulation.
3) Relationship with His Purpose
Are you feeling pulled in a million directions? Stretched too thin? Jesus exemplifies boundaries by his level of focus while He ministered on earth. He knew who He was (the Messiah) and what His purpose was (to establish the Kingdom of God on earth, to share and teach and show the Gospel) and he wouldn’t let other things distract Him. Scripture tells us Jesus only did what the Father told Him to do. He would withdraw from the crowds and get a way to spend time with His Father and get direction for His ministry and next steps. He didn’t meet every single need in front of Him. He walked away from crowds of people and certain needs at times because He knew His purpose and He had a strategy and a limited amount of time to accomplish it. We need to follow Jesus’ example and learn to say no to some of the things grabbing our time and attention and focus on saying yes to our purpose.
The importance of establishing healthy boundaries personally, in relationships, and around your purpose is summed up in Proverbs 4:23. “Above all else, guard your heart because everything you do flows from it.” The Hebrew translation of heart here means “inner person” – guard your inner person! Guard yourself, your relationships, your purpose…. for all of life flows from these things! Establish boundaries to keep yourself healthy physically and spiritually, to keep healthy relationships healthy and unhealthy ones out, to protect the purpose God has for you to fulfill with the life He’s given you. Boundaries are not selfish or stingy. Jesus ultimately gave everything, His whole life. It was boundaries that allowed Him to do so. May it be the same for us!