Boundaries; September 16, 2019


Psalm 119:45 I will walk about in freedom,
for I have sought out your precepts.

This verse expresses a truth that many people have trouble grasping, because the devil and our flesh regularly say the opposite: God’s rules aren’t restrictive, they lead us into genuine freedom. John put it this way: “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.” (1 John 5:3-5) In talking to parents I always tell them that human beings need boundaries for emotional and other stability, so one of their biggest issues in dealing with their children is in setting, and gradually expanding, those boundaries. With children, some boundaries are age-specific, but some should be life-long, and the children will be much happier when those are properly ingrained. God, as the perfect Father, knows exactly what boundaries we need. Sometimes He places boundaries on us that we don’t understand at the time, like when He wouldn’t let Paul and company go into Bithynia for evangelism. (Acts 16:6-7) In that case, the mystery was soon solved when God made it clear they were to cross over into Macedonia, and so take the Gospel to Europe. Sometimes we don’t know the whys of how God leads us, but as the old Southern Gospel song says, “we will understand it better by and by.” In any case, real freedom, from all the traps and diversions of the devil, comes only with faith that is obedient to God. (Romans 6:15-23)

I have certainly experienced this. By the time they got around to me, their 4th child, my parents had a lot of wisdom. I certainly had boundaries, but I don’t remember chafing because I felt they were unreasonable. In one area in particular they bent over backwards not to place limits on me. When I wanted to try to do something, I can’t remember a single time they said, “That’s beyond you; you aren’t up to it.” They did tell me when things were out of bounds for one reason or another, and they did tell me to be careful, but I was never forbidden to do anything that was neither immoral nor illegal. As a result, I have a range of abilities and skills that sometimes amazes others. I feel God is the same way. He is always encouraging us to expand our abilities in various areas, even when doing so seems difficult or risky. At the same time, He knows what is harmful to us and to others, and he “lays down the law,” literally, about those things. As a pastor I am often in the position of speaking for God about various things. I must never do so out of my own mind, but only express what God has said and is saying. I am to help people recognize God’s boundaries for their lives, without placing any merely human limitations on them.

Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for yesterday and all it held. I don’t remember the last time my birthday fell on a Sunday! Thank You for the good service, and for the outpouring of love in so many ways. Going to the emergency room due to concerns over my surgical incision isn’t something I would have chosen, but thank You for the good report, and that they ended up not charging me the usual emergency room surcharge. I was rather overwhelmed by all the well-wishers on Facebook! Thank You for all You have planned for today. Help me recognize Your boundaries and rejoice to walk freely within them, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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