Clear Boundaries Make Cheerful Givers

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:7 NIV

I enjoyed lunch with some co-workers at one of my absolute favorite restaurants.  We had taken advantage of the weather and walked to the restaurant. Belly full and spirit renewed from time with friends I suggested we take the longer route back to the office. Though it was hot, a cool breeze made it bearable, and my dining companions agreed.  This route passed through a neighborhood to the foot of the mountain. Beginning up the gentle incline, I heard the barking of dogs but paid little attention. Moments later, the barking became louder, and two dogs came rushing toward us from a house on the hill above.  I realized there was not a fence around the yard and became alarmed. I considered what to do if they came after us and started looking around for a stick or rock. Fortunately, to my relief, the dogs stopped short of the road and stood barking incessantly. That is when I noticed they had on invisible fence collars.  The dogs had stopped three or more feet from the ditch; they knew where their boundary lay.

If only we were as good as they about accepting and enforcing the boundaries in our lives.  In my youth and admittedly, even now, I have often tested, pushed, and crashed through some fences.  I think that many of us look at boundaries as restrictions meant to deny us. Many boundaries are for our protection.  Boundaries are healthy, needed, and biblical, and we as humans have been crossing them since the beginning. Adam and Eve crossed the only boundary when they disobeyed and ate the only fruit they were commanded not to.  A garden full of wonders, a perfect life, the pinnacle of creation, and they couldn’t resist breaking the only rule. However, boundaries aren’t just rules they are boundaries in our lives that we should also erect to protect ourselves and make sure that we are fulfilling our purpose in God’s plan.  

Boundary setting has become something that I have recently begun to explore.  As a southern lady, I find saying “no” feels rude and “not nice.” However, to best serve the Lord and the people that come to me, setting boundaries and saying “no” is the best thing I can do for myself and those in my life. 

As I was preparing to write this Seed, I spent time reading up on the biblical principles of boundaries.  I found that Jesus was very deliberate in his establishment of boundaries. When I think of Jesus, I think of his boundless love for me.  His sacrifice was so selfless that the idea of limitations does not come to mind. However, Jesus set boundaries with the people that he ministered to, the disciples, and to protect his soul and physical health.  Though Jesus is the Son of God and fully God himself, he was also in the body of a human. He submitted to the limitation of this physical shell.  

Points that I realized while studying you may find helpful.  These are just a handful of examples of how Jesus set boundaries and stuck to them.   

  • Jesus made sure he met his physical needs.  He ate healthy foods, took naps, and did a lot of walking. 
  • Jesus enjoyed his time with friends. He often took time to enjoy friendship, meals, boat rides, and hiking with the disciples. 
  • Jesus made sure that he dedicated time in prayer and meditation with the Father.  Jesus understood the need for precious time with Abba (Papa). Jesus separated himself from the crowds and disciples to have quiet time alone.
  • Jesus never seemed to be in a hurry.  He enjoyed the people, the places and he went with the flow.  The only time we see Jesus expressing urgency was when he was traveling to Jerusalem to fulfill his mission. 
  • This final one gave me a bit of a shake.  Jesus left the outcome to God. In Mark 14:32-42, Jesus is in the garden, and Jesus knowing what he was about to face, asked God to “Take this cup from me. Not what I will, but what you will.”  He submitted to God’s Will. He did not try to change the outcome or the plan.  Jesus submitted, obeyed and trusted God.

Jesus set boundaries in his earthly life so that he could minister to the people and lead them to God.  For us to emulate Christ and be as effective as we can be, we need to set boundaries and stick to them. You cannot help anyone or be a “cheerful giver” if you are exhausted, frustrated, and drained.  

Typist for Jesus

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