Setting limits are very important and a godly attribute. There are two types of limits I want to talk about today. The first is setting limits on others. Now, I say that tongue-in-cheek because it’s impossible to set limits on others. Remember we are not powerful enough to control someone else’s actions. However, we can set limits on our exposure to other people who are behaving poorly. We don’t have to be around people who do not respect who we are and the boundaries we set. There is no Biblical law that says others can treat us poorly and that we must receive it because it makes us seem more spiritual. We can hang out with people who behave poorly but it’s entirely up to us and it should be on a limited basis. The Bible says we are to separate ourselves from people who act in destructive ways. We are not being unloving, we are simply setting boundaries. In fact, we are loving ourselves well!
Separation allows us to protect and love because we are taking a stand against the things that can potentially destroy. The enemy would love you to believe a lie that you must be around people who treat you unlovingly or even harmfully. He’ll say you are not being kind if you do not allow them in. This is a lie. God does not treat or train His children with abuse. God does not teach kindness by meanness, or love by cruelty. This is not a picture of a kind Father. We need to be careful who we allow to hang out in our yards, even who we allow to speak into our yards. God does not always set limits for Himself, but He does set standards. He limits His exposure to evil, unrepentant people and so should we.
Communicating boundaries is essential in order to DO HARD THINGS. Successful people know how to do this and they do it well. They don’t have to yell their boundaries or blame someone else (like a spouse) but they can simply say “no” or “not now” and mean it. It’s important for us to use boundary words like “no.” “No” is a boundary word and it communicates a property line. You will know if you are not operating as an adult with boundaries when the person you are setting boundaries for causes you to change your ‘no’ to a ‘yes’. As long as you don’t change your resolve, you have not lost your voice. Part of communicating boundaries is letting others know what they can and cannot do. If they are unwilling to respect your boundaries, they should not have the privilege of being around you.
I know some of you are thinking, “But what if it is my spouse? How do I get away from them! What if they don’t respect my boundaries?” Let me start by saying it’s going to take some time for you to reestablish your boundaries with those closest to you. Remember, it took a long time for you to get to this place. So, take all the time you need to make a change! Simply communicate your boundaries with your words and follow through with your actions. Be as kind as you possibly can be but stay firm.
The second set of limits I want to talk about today is internal limits. We need to have a space inside ourselves where we can have a feeling, an impulse, a desire, without acting it out. We need self-control without repression. Which means, we may have feelings or attitudes that rise up but we have to have space where we can process without damaging ourselves or those around us. We own our feelings and we own our decisions to “not” act on them. We need to be able to say to ourselves, “No” or “No, not now.” Part of spiritual maturity is being able to set personal limits, as in, “No, it’s not the time for that” or “I don’t need to have that right now.”
Romans 14:12 says we will each give an account for the way we lived our lives. This means every dollar spent, every word spoken, every thought thought and every action done will be evaluated and we will have to answer for it. Now I know this can sound pretty intimidating, especially if we are working on things in our own lives, but be encouraged, the Holy Spirit knows how to help you and He knows where the boundaries need to be set, where the limits need to be drawn, and where the “no’s” need to be said. You can do this!