Are Boundaries Good for You?
Have you ever thought about the boundaries of life? The world around us often tries to convince us that we should not have boundaries.
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We should do what feels good.
Follow your heart.
Spend, spend, spend!
You deserve more stuff.
It feels great.
Eat, eat, eat! It tastes so good.
But have you really thought about that? What are the consequences of doing whatever you want? Doing what feels good? Usually, the consequences are not good. For example, I almost never feel like cleaning the house. It would feel good just to lay on the bed and have a nap instead. But then the house would be a disaster all the time. That is why we need to set boundaries in our lives. Boundaries are good in all areas of life.
Last week, I was putting up an electric rope fence in a new pasture for our herd of cattle. There is a lot of time to think while doing a job like that. I got to thinking about fencing and boundaries. The fence I was putting up was a good boundary for the cattle. They would have new, fresh grass to eat, a new tree to shade them in the hot afternoon sun, new scenery to look at (ok, maybe cattle don’t care about the scenery.) Without the new fence, they eat the short, grazed pasture with the same old tree and the same old scenery.
Why Boundaries are good for cattle
Having been around cattle for the last 13 years, I know that eventually, the cattle will get tired of their new pasture. They want to go beyond the fence. Beyond the boundary where there are crops planted: soybeans, alfalfa, and corn. There is also the neighbor’s yard with lush grass on one side and the highway on the other with long grass along the shoulders. What the cattle don’t realize is the danger beyond the boundary I established for them.
cattle’s life without boundaries
What if the cattle go through the fence into the crops? They will become sick from eating the crops. Then they will not have any food for the long winter months.
What if they get into the neighbor’s yard? We would not be good neighbors and probably end up paying for damage the cattle cause.
What if they get onto the highway? I don’t think I need to explain the disaster that would be for cattle and humans alike.
Obviously, the boundaries are good for the cattle. They are safe and fed inside their boundaries. The farmer (that’s me) cares for them and wants the best life possible for them. I do not want them to overeat, upset the neighbors or get killed on the highway.
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What are Boundaries for us?
Boundaries are limits we put on our life. Just like cattle, we have boundaries in our lives. Boundaries are good in all areas of life. I will talk about some examples in just a minute. According to the book, Boundaries: When to Say Yes in Our Lives by Dr. Henry Cloud and John Townsend the definition of boundaries is:
“Having clear boundaries is essential to a healthy, balanced lifestyle. A boundary is a personal property line that marks those things for which we are responsible. In other words, boundaries define who we are and who we are not. Boundaries impact all areas of our lives: Physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances — Mental boundaries give us the freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions — Emotional boundaries help us to deal with our own emotions and disengage from the harmful, manipulative emotions of others — Spiritual boundaries help us to distinguish God’s will from our own and give us renewed awe for our Creator — Often, Christians focus so much on being loving and unselfish that they forget their own limits and limitations. “
Boundaries are good in all areas of life
You may not have thought about it, but we set up boundaries for ourselves in many areas of our lives. Boundaries are good in all areas of our lives. For example, you hopefully have the boundary of not doing drugs in your life. You would not think to yourself one day, “I think I will go find a drug dealer and buy some heroin to shoot up.” You know this would be very bad for you. You have a boundary of no drug use. If you are married, hopefully, you have a boundary not to flirt with members of the opposite gender. You have a boundary of faithfulness to your spouse. As you can see, boundaries are good in all areas of life.
Often we break our boundaries we have set for ourselves. For example, we have a limited amount of money to spend in our lives, based on how much money we earn. However, when we don’t have enough money we purchase things on credit and end up paying interest. There are consequences when we break our boundaries. In this case, paying more than we had planned for things we purchase on credit.
If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, He also has set up boundaries for us in His Word, the Bible. There are numerous boundaries outlined in the Bible. For the sake of time, let’s briefly outline a couple of the ten commandments. Exodus 20 outlines the ten commandments. Probably the most famous God-given set of boundaries for mankind. It is a list of boundaries that help us live an obedient, happy life inside God’s boundaries.
Verse 13 “Thou shalt not kill.” This is a very important boundary to have in our life. We do not go around killing people. You are probably saying to yourself, I would never kill anyone. But the Bible also says in 1 John 3:15, “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: This is a warning to put up a boundary when the feeling of hate comes into our heart. We need to confess it and forsake it before we go beyond the boundary and hurt someone.
Exodus: 20:14 “Thou shalt not commit adultery” As mentioned above if we are married, we have boundaries in our marriages to protect it. We set up a boundary not flirt with members of the opposite gender to prevent breaking out of our boundaries that could eventually end up leading to committing adultery.
These are some pretty obvious, big examples above. What about every day practical examples? I mentioned at the beginning about cleaning the house. We must set up a boundary for chores. Maybe a cleaning schedule. I really started thinking about boundaries after reading a book about weight loss. When we overindulge in food, we often gain weight. This is the consequence of breaking the boundary of the amount of food that our body needs.
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I have been trying to lose 20 lbs for a long time. In fact, I have lost and gained it back several times. Why aren’t these diets working? Why can’t I keep the weight off? Check out a book called Taste for Truth that helped me establish weight loss boundaries and how I am overcoming the diet rollercoaster in my life.
The good shepherd and boundaries
Boundaries are good in cattle’s life. As the “shepherd” of my cattle, I want what is best for them. I want to keep them happy, safe, and well-fed. Boundaries are good in all areas of our lives too. Jesus is the good Shepherd. He cares for His sheep (that’s us) and wants what is best for us. Here are just a few Bible references talking about Jesus the good shepherd.
John 10:11 (KJV) I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.Luke 15:4 (KJV) What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?
Psalm 23:1 (KJV) The LORD [is] my shepherd; I shall not want.
No doubt, you have boundaries in your own life, however, maybe you didn’t think about them as boundaries. I hope you understand the importance of boundaries in your life and why they are good for you. Remember, boundaries are good in all areas of life