Friday, October 7, 2016

Boundaries


How blessed are those whose way is blameless,  
Who walk in the law of the Lord.
Psalm 119:1



Boundaries are good.  Boundaries are important.  Boundaries are especially good and important when God sets them.  

So why do we constantly test the boundaries?  Why do we push the limits?  Why do we feel restricted by boundaries?  Aren't we free in Christ?

Freedom in Christ is not freedom from boundaries but rather freedom from the bondage of sin.  When your life is completely surrendered to the Lord, you are now free to live within God's good boundaries.  And like any good parent, our Heavenly Father knows that boundaries are for protection, not for limitation.

For example, we live within physical boundaries every day:  speed limits control traffic for the safety of the public, stop lights keep order, crosswalks and sidewalks are safe ways pedestrians can coexist with vehicles, guardrails warn of water and drop-offs, and construction signs protect the ones fixing our roads.  

And that's just traffic boundaries. We set boundaries around our children all the time.  We keep our dogs on a leash.  We live on a budget.  We fill out time cards for work.  We follow recipes.  We brush our teeth.  We pay our taxes and our monthly bills.  We don't mow or landscape across our property line.  We stand in line to pay at the grocery store.  We wait our turn. 

Boundaries, rules are for the protection of the rule keeper.  Living within the boundaries is the safest place to be.  When we don't speed, we don't run the risk of a ticket or losing control of the car around a turn or in a busy traffic jam.  When we live within our means, using a budget, paying bills on time, not amassing credit card debt, we sleep much easier without fear of eviction or collection agency calls.  When we put our children in a carseat, we have confidence that they are safe during the ride, even if there is an accident.

So why do we buck against God's law?  Why do we not consider the instruction or boundaries of the Lord to be the safest place to dwell?  The answer is simple:  it's not in our nature to trust the Lord.  Our sin nature is bent against the Lord and toward our self.  Even after salvation, the struggle to obey is still very real, however, with the leading and conviction of the Holy Spirit, we have the ability to walk by faith.

The longest chapter in the Bible is Psalm 119 and do you know what the whole chapter is about?  The joy and value of not only knowing the law of the Lord but living within it - all 176 verses of it!  The psalmist clearly understood that living within the boundaries of the Lord is the safest, most blessed place to be.  

As believers, we need to stop trying to get around God's boundaries.  We need to stop making excuses why the instruction in God's word is fine for most people but in our specific circumstance it doesn't apply.  We need to run to the Lord and be quick to act on His word.  We need to be kind, tenderhearted and forgiving, quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger, honest, patient and faithful in all we do. We need to work for unjust bosses for God's glory.  We need to submit to unreasonable husbands for God's glory.  We need to deny ourselves and take up our cross daily for God's glory.  

And we can do all these things because we have the ability to set our minds on the things above, to live with an eternal perspective and not put the hope of our joy in the circumstances of life, but rather in the restored relationship of the One who is preparing a home for me in eternity and coming back for me.  (Wow...that's super close to a Pauline run-on sentence!)

This is the role of the church - to point the body of Christ to the loving boundaries that the good, good Father has set around us as being the safest place to live and the place that brings our Savior the most glory.  Are you in a church that does this?  Are you in a small group that encourages you to live within in God's boundaries?  Are you pouring into someone's life who needs to hear this message?  And finally, what boundary are you pushing?  Will you willingly step back or would you rather jump that wall and find out what's on the other side?

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