Boundaries in relationships aren’t always easy to figure out due to the many complicated dynamics that can exist. Christians are concerned with making choices in relationships that follow biblical principles to please God. It is helpful to look at how Jesus demonstrated boundaries in his relationships as an example of what we should do in ours.
Jesus said no to people so he could take care of himself. Jesus was willing to minister to people, but he also said no to the crowds when he needed to leave to take care of himself by resting, eating, praying, and fellowshipping. Boundaries require you to be willing to say no when you want to and need to. Rather than giving out of your depletion, take care of yourself and then give out of your abundance. When you take care of yourself, you have more to give.
Jesus protected himself. Jesus allowed himself to be killed, but only when it was the appointed time. Prior to that, he left when people wanted to kill him. When he was crucified on the cross, it was only because he allowed it to happen to fulfill God’s plan of redemption. Boundaries are meant to be protective. You can and should set boundaries when needed to protect yourself and your family.
Jesus kept his priorities straight. Jesus never lost sight of his purpose nor of his priorities which were to lead people to repent and to believe on him. He didn’t allow people to sidetrack him through their manipulation, arguments, or tricks. The purpose of boundaries is to help you to keep your priorities straight and to help you to be a good steward of what God has given you: your life.
Jesus was willing to confront even if it hurt the person he was confronting. People often worry that the boundary they want to set will be hurtful and feel that if it is, they shouldn’t set it. Jesus didn’t worry about how someone was affected by the truth or his boundaries. He spoke forcefully with conviction and stood for what was right. Speaking the truth in love and setting boundaries sometimes requires you to risk hurting the person.
What would Jesus do in your difficult relationship? He would set boundaries. Christians can feel good about the fact that boundaries are biblical and pleasing to God, as demonstrated by Jesus.
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Karla Downing is an author, speaker, licensed marriage and family therapist, and Bible study teacher. Karla’s passion is to help people find freedom in Christ in the midst of their difficult relationships and circumstances through Biblical truths and practical tools.
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