Do you push limits or respect them? Honestly, I’m the kind of gal who colors inside the lines, walks a wide circle around the forbidden grassy patch, heeds the speed limit and walks away from the “do not enter” sign. As long as someone else drew the boundary line, that is. I’m not nearly as good at creating and keeping my own boundaries. How about you?
Why We Need Boundaries
There’s a huge boundary just about 50 miles south of where I live that is giving everyone fits. But while our nation debates the merits or faults of tough borders, I’ve been thinking about personal boundaries. Honestly, that’s another line our culture struggles with, huh?
In a day where it’s popular to hang all our dirty laundry on the public lines of Facebook, Twitter and personal blogs, we’ve lost sight of what it means to be discreet. I fear we’re even losing our ability to blush. Oh my.
But that’s a topic for another day. Today I’m thinking more about boundaries that limit what we take in rather than what we put out there.
When I evaluate them accurately I realize boundaries aren’t meant to divide or isolate so much as they are intended to make healthy and safe. Boundaries keep us off the grass so it can grow, within a safe speed so we won’t crash, from touching the wet paint so we’ll stay clean and away from a cliff so we won’t fall to our death.
And in our personal lives, boundaries do the same. They keep our relationships, bodies, goals and values protected so that we have more to give, more life to live, more opportunity to thrive and more integrity in the end.
Did You Know establishing and keeping proper boundaries is even an act of worship?
Following a series of psalms focused on praise and thanksgiving, we find a psalm penned by David in which he declares some boundary lines he has drawn for himself. At first glance it appears that the 101st Psalm is a complete departure from the psalms of praise preceding it. But actually this “boundaries 101” psalm proclaims one of the highest forms of worship: allegiance.
To worship simply means to declare the great worth of the object. What better way to worship our God than to declare that He is worthy of our drawing some boundary lines in our lives?Appropriate boundaries elevate God as the rightful ruler of our lives the way high walls around a kingdom help establish the king's rule and reign. Boundaries insist that some influences just don't belong in a heart ruled by a holy God. Click To Tweet
A look at Psalm 101
David worships God by declaring,
I will sing of steadfast love and justice;
to you, O Lord, I will make music.” (Psalm 101:1)
He then acknowledges God’s holiness as he pledges to live a life of integrity…one that reflects the rule and reign of his King. He even promises to live in the privacy of his home the same as he does in the marketplace. David then goes on to share how he is setting boundaries that will enable him to live with such integrity.
David sets boundaries:
- as to what he will look upon or see
- as to whom he gives his affection or approval
- as to what he allows to grip his heart
- as to whom he calls friend or keeps company with
What does David vow to keep out of his life exactly?
- anything that is of no value
- people who have turned their back on God
- perversion of any sort
- people who slander or gossip about others
- those who are full of pride and arrogance
- people who are deceitful and practice falsehood
David declares his intentions and sets his boundaries based on what pleases God and what will protect his heart for Him. We are wise to do the same.
How can I draw similar boundaries?
When I look at Psalm 101 and the boundary lines David drew, I am prompted to consider my own life.
Are there people I need to stop allowing to speak into my life? And David doesn’t say that he’s going to not give their words weight; he says he will not endure those people at all. He gives those who slander, gossip or lie no voice whatsoever in his life.
Are there things I’ve been reading or watching that I need to put away once and for all? David said he would not even set such things before his eyes.
Are there things that have fastened their grip on me that I need to shake free of? Habits, hangups, attitudes, rituals, bitterness, thoughts?
Are there things I have esteemed – given my time, energy, money or thoughts to – that don’t deserve that from me?I place appropriate boundaries in my life when I determine what helps me to obey and honor my King and what hinders that allegiance and then draw the lines accordingly. Click To Tweet
How boundaries build bridges
If I dedicate myself to erecting and safeguarding proper boundaries in my life won’t I isolate myself and become detached from others? No. The truth is that when we have proper boundaries we are healthier, whole people who have more to give to others. Without boundaries, especially in our relationships (which seems to be David’s focus, too) we become chipped away fragments of who God meant for us to be. Focused on building bridges, I become a people pleaser who never really pleases anyone, least of all my God.
But after I have mended my fences I can then build better bridges.
Confident in who I am – and Whose I am – I can give generously and graciously of my time, my resources and my energy to others without the threat of being chipped away. Seeking to please my King alone I don’t become tangled in other people’s demands or diseases, but I am able to serve willingly and without strings instead.
I’d love to hear from you. Have you had seasons in your life when you lost sight of your King because you had no boundaries? How did you go about elevating your King again? What do you find difficult about boundaries? Or how have good boundaries been beneficial in your life?
If you are struggling with a prior heart wound that has damaged your relationships, you might benefit from my Bible study Joseph: Keeping a Soft Heart in a Hard Place. You can check it out here. Also you can order the book and DVDs here at my website or you can order the Bible study alone at Amazon.