Ever had anyone walk up to you that you didn’t know very well and they got about three inches from your face and started talking? Unconsciously, you started backing up as they just kept moving forward. It felt uncomfortable.
Or ever had a parent, boss, or a close friend ask you to do something and you knew that you didn’t want to do it. But this person just kept pushing and pushing until you finally felt guilty enough to give in. Afterwards, you felt regret and resentment, or even anger.
Both of those situations have one thing in common. There was a violation of boundaries.
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What is a boundary?
A boundary, quite simply, is where one person stops and another person starts. It’s often created by the word “no.”
“No, you can’t stand that close to me,” or “No, you can’t hit the ball in my space,” or “No, you can’t drive your car on my side of the road,” And, “No, you can’t make me do your agenda if it’s not God’s will for my life, no matter how guilty you try to make me feel.”
In other words, “I have my side of the road, and you have yours.”
This is why when someone crosses into “your side of the road,” either physically or relationally, you can experience anything from mild irritation to discomfort and anger, and even a desire to break off the relationship.
Each one of us has boundaries that we want others to respect. But did you know that God has boundaries, too?
God lays out His boundaries in the Old Testament when He wanted to take a people and make them distinct and help them understand who He is, how to relate to Him, and how to have healthy relationships with one another.
So often, when we think of the Ten Commandments, we think about Charlton Heston and old Hollywood. For many of us, our picture of God in the Old Testament is a very angry God with lightning bolts coming out of a mountain, and then putting commands on stone tablets in order to make people do what He wants them to do.
The truth is that God gave us the Ten Commandments not so that He could control us or punish us, but so that we could better know Him and experience His protection.
Think of God’s boundaries like guardrails that go around a winding road and provide us with direction and protection. This protection is so we can have the very best relationships.
Here’s what we so often miss: The God of the Ten Commandments – or boundaries – is a God who wants us to experience more abundant living. He longs for us to have the kind of relationship with Him and with one another that is deeper and better than we could ever dream!
God didn’t want us to experience the discomfort and the irritation and the fear and the anger – and the pain – when boundaries are violated with Him or with one another. So, on one tablet, He put boundaries or commands about our relationship with Him, and on another tablet, He put the boundaries that have to do with our relationship with others.
The Ten Commandments are words of life so that when we obey them they will keep us from sinning and reaping the consequences. They are words of an all-knowing, all-powerful, eternal Father who is absolutely holy and pure and knows you and loves you.
To learn more about the Ten Commandments and how to discover God’s boundaries for your life, check out Chip Ingram’s series God’s Boundaries for Abundant Living.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip