God’s Boundaries

In recent years, I’ve heard a lot about boundaries—especially as it relates to human relationships.
The idea of boundaries seemed to go against what people expect from Christians—shouldn’t you love everyone regardless of their actions?
Shouldn’t you help anyone who has a need?
Isn’t that what we are called to do as Christians?

Someone recently told me I needed to hold firm on a boundary.
I cringed. Maybe I better research what boundaries really do.
The next several articles will address my “findings.”
Maybe they will help you. But You do your own research.

Does God have boundaries?
The Psalms records several boundaries God put on creation.
The mountains rose, the valleys sank down to the place that You appointed for them.
You set a boundary that they may not pass, so that they might not again cover the earth.
You make springs gush forth in the valleys; they flow between he hills….

Psalm 104:8-10. (The chapter continues giving boundaries for His creation.)

Consider the sun. 
It remains in its course, so we can predict to the minute when it will rise in the morning and when it will set in the evening. 
This gigantic ball of fire stays its course.
If it were a little closer to us, we’d burn up.
If it were a little farther from us, we’d freeze.
What other ginormous ball of fire would we calming watch without alarm? 
We should be struck with fear and trembling.
But the sun gives us comfort, because it stays in its boundary.
We are comforted by its predictability, its course of action, its boundary.
It shows God’s love for us. 
Boundaries gives security, comfort and peace.

Did God use boundaries with man?
We don’t have to look far in the Scriptures to see them. 
In the Garden of Eden, God told Adam and Eve, 

You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17.

The boundary was in place before they had sinned. 
Boundaries aren’t evil. 
But should Adam and Eve disobey, they would know in advance its consequence.
It was clearly stated. No questions were needed.

Notice a few things about the boundary.
It was their sin, not the boundary, that destroyed the relationship with God. 
When Adam and Eve sinned, they attempted to hide from God evidence of their broken relationship with God.
It was not God’s actions, nor the boundary that was the problem.
It was man’s.

Often in our boundaries, someone resists the boundary, declaring the boundary the problem.
The boundary is NOT the problem.
Or they will label the person who institutes the boundary as the problem, or unloving or narrow.
For example, if a clerk is rude to me as a customer, I will no longer use his service. The rude salesman calls me picky or snobbish.
Putting up the boundary didn’t make me so.
It was the person who chose to cross the line and was rude that does not like the restriction on his behavior.
He wants to do what he wants to do.
That person is accountable for his own actions.
I did not make him rude. Nor stir him to respond improperly.

(Unfortunately, airlines and the government are exempt from this accountability.
Until God makes them accountable.)
A boundary requires accountability—responsibility for one’s own actions.
My response to the person who is rude to me is not unChristiain, unloving, or wrong by establishing a boundary and standing by it.

What the boundary does is enable me not to become rude and unloving in response to them.
For if there was no boundary, and I had to remain in his service even though he is always rude to me, I could probably be nice to them the first time, and maybe even the second time.
Perhaps he was having a bad day.
But if his rudeness continued, I would stew about my response and have a ready one the next time he were rude.

Without the boundary, I would change.
And not for the good!

I would sink to their level. I would probably become either snarky, rude or unchristian in my response.
Maybe not the first five times, but eventually, because I am not as full of grace and walking in the Spirit as I would like to be.
The boundary protects me from changing.

It’s like the guardrail on the road. 
I don’t have to run into it to know it’s there.
But by having a guard rail, I am freer to take the curve a little faster.
The guard rail would not keep me from plunging over the cliff if I hit it straight on, but it gives me security when I am trying to stay on the road.

Another example is discipline with children.
Children want to know there is a limit to how far they can go.
They find security that their parents will stop them from hurting themselves.
They test the limits.
They push against it.
They touch the line or put their little toe across the line.
But they expect and want their parents to do something about it.

If their parents concede and give in, they push farther to find where that line is.
When the line keeps changing, they become very insecure.
That’s why consistency with discipline is essential.
What you discipline today, will be the same tomorrow and the next day.
These are boundaries that children need to develop.
Without fulfilling the need for security, children do not feel loved.

God does not change.
He is unchangeable.
His response the first time will be the same as the 1000th time. 
But when the boundary is crossed, fellowship is broken.
Sin and holiness cannot abide together.
Like oil and water. They can’t mix.
The boundary didn’t cause their sin.
Nor was the boundary wrong.
The person just wanted to do his own thing.

God doesn’t change when His boundaries are broken. 
Nor will He ever change, in spite of my treatment to Him.
His boundaries are not for His protection.
They are for ours.
And though He is long-suffering, not willing that any should perish…He still has boundaries.
He limits access into heaven and into His presence to only those who come to Him HIS WAY, through His Son.
Others may choose to do their own thing. May choose to earn their way, be good, serve, but access to Him comes only through His Son.
There will be many who will be surprised on judgment day. 
They thought their way was okay.

Nor did God prevent them from sinning.
God allowed them that choice.
Often in our relationships, we try to make the other individual make the right choice. 
God didn’t.
Did He love them less?
In fact He promised Adam and Eve a Savior Who would make a way back into a fellowship with Him.
But until then, a chasm would be there.
The relationship was broken.

Can you imagine what it was like to walk and talk with God in the Garden?
What things He could explain! What wonders He would show!
Every thought of our being was praise for Him and what He had done!
But that relationship was broken.
By man.
There is no more walking in the Garden with God.
Man was cast from the Garden.
For God is holy.
And man is not.
A chasm we could not cross.
That loss must have been devastating.

God did not become less holy because He honored the boundary.
(As if God can be “less” of anything that He alone is the standard!)

Let me state it another way, God did not jeopardize His holiness by establishing and fulfilling the boundary.
The consequences did not change.
Man must leave. 
It was man who changed.
He became separated from God with a new desire to please himself (knowing good and evil) instead of the reason he was created: to please God.
The struggle between good and evil became the daily battle.

Yet God didn’t chase them down to make them choose right.
Nor did Jesus when he was on earth.
Notice when the rich, young ruler asked to be His disciple. 
Jesus told him to sell everything and follow him— a boundary.
The man went away sorrowful, for he had great wealth.
Jesus didn’t chase him down and beg him to reconsider.
He allowed him to choose.
But the boundary kept him away.
Access to God wasn’t granted.
The boundary was still in place.
Because it wasn’t the boundary that was wrong, it was the man. 
And he was still wrong until he did what Christ said.

The boundary didn’t make Jesus less loving.
He still loved the man. It grieved Him that the man walked away.
But Jesus allowed the man his own choice.
As parents, we must give our children choices. 
We cannot make them choose what is right.
But we must have boundaries when they choose poorly.
For their good.
They cannot think their actions have no consequences, that they can do what they want without recourse.

When Adam and Eve sinned and God cast them out of the Garden, the boundary prevented an even worse consequence. 
But you say, “Weren’t they expelled from the Garden?”
Yes, but if they were allowed to stay, they could have eaten from the tree of life, which would have allowed them to live eternally in their sinful state. 
The boundary protected them, even when they chose poorly.
God’s established boundaries showed His infinite love for our good.

By keeping the boundaries firm and not changing them, we know what to expect. If we don’t believe on the Son Who made the way for us to enter into a relationship with the Father, than we never will enter.
The boundary isn’t evil. It reflects the love of the Father for those who do choose His way—because He did indeed send His Son to be our Savior.
And it reveals the holiness of our God Who cannot abide with sin.
God’s boundaries show Himself faithful, loving, and holy.

I write about what you---
women, wives and moms---
about your family, faith and future.
I write about what's hard, what helps and what heals.
I show you how it's done. And not done.
I hold your hand as you find what matters to the Savior.
And let go of those things that mattered to you, but not to Him.
I write about what Him.
               Sonya Contreras

Displaying 1 comment

We tend to want to push against boundaries, but oh how we need them, adults as well as children. Boundaries bring accountability, which is necessary for us sinful people. Thanks Sonya for another good article.

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