When I was a teenager, I was bullied a lot about my looks and anything else the bullies could think of. When I told my mom how hurt and angry I was, she told me that I had to forgive them and act like nothing was wrong. I wanted to stand up for myself and to fight back, but because of her counsel and her reminder that Jesus forgave me, I believed I couldn’t stop the bullies. I didn’t know about the four aspects of Christ’s healthy boundaries.
Break Through the Deception of Unawareness
My mom’s response is a great example of how we get things presented wrong, and we misunderstand God’s word when we don’t know it for ourselves. Our deception keeps us blind to the real definition and design of Christ’s love. We don’t know how to live and love others as he did.
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God.” (Matt. 22:29, NIV) When we believe other people’s interpretation of scripture without checking for ourselves, we risk being deceived. My mother didn’t intentionally mislead me, but she did. It is each person’s responsibility to know God’s word.
My misled mind twisted into a belief that I couldn’t say no to people if I was a Christian. The reality of this false belief led me down a path of not knowing I had the right and responsibility to draw boundaries. Instead, I didn’t know what healthy boundaries looked like. I felt responsible for other people’s happiness. And I felt helpless.
4 Aspects of Christ’s Healthy Boundaries
To help us understand the true definition and purpose of boundaries, let’s look at a quote from two Christian psychologists and leading authorities, Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. They wrote the book Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No to Take Control of Your Life.
“Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end, and someone else begins, leading me to a sense of ownership. Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. If I know where my yard begins and ends, I am free to do with it what I like. Taking responsibility for my life opens up many different options. However, if I do not “own” my life, my choices and options become very limited.”
When we ask Jesus to be our Savior, he accepts us as we are. The problem is, we have all been trained from people with their imperfect guidelines and definitions of love and boundaries. Some of us may have grown up in healthy, loving environments founded on God. However, I would guess that most of us have learned imperfect and skewed ways growing up, and we have the scars to prove it.
The only way to change our heart, mind, and life is to work with Jesus and learn the truth of God by studying his word. Next, we must foster a personal relationship with him every day as we live to honor him. Then, we must learn about Christ’s healthy boundaries and live in his example. Jesus lived in healthy boundaries. He took care of his personal needs, and he never let anyone mistreat or abuse him until he gave himself over to be crucified for our sins. Let’s look at the aspects of his healthy boundaries.
1. The two greatest commandments. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matt. 22:37–39, NIV) Establishing boundaries that keep you loving God first helps you love others as you love yourself. With Jesus as our compass, we keep ourselves on level ground with others. Living in these commands also helps us draw healthy boundaries for ourselves from God’s love.
2. God created us with the freedom and power to choose. Inside the physical and mental boundaries of our lives, we are free to choose our thoughts, feelings, words, attitudes, actions, and beliefs. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Cor. 3:17, NIV) In healthy, loving boundaries, you are free to say no to people who are hurting and abusing you.
As a child of God, we have instructions holding us to Christ’s character and standards within our freedom explained by the apostle Paul. “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. “(Gal. 5:13, NIV)“Do not do anything that causes our brother to stumble” (Rom. 14:21, NIV). God’s word shows us that the aspect of freedom within healthy boundaries includes respect, responsibility, and self-control.
3. Respect. Respecting others and yourself is loving others as you love yourself. When you have grown up believing you are less than others or not worthy of being loved, you have very little respect for yourself. Until you accept and live in who you are as a child of God and a disciple of Jesus Christ, you will struggle with respecting yourself.
You will also allow others to disrespect you. We are responsible for being the temple of Christ, which includes respecting every aspect of ourselves. To let someone disrespect you as a disciple of Jesus is allowing them to disrespect Jesus because he lives in you. Let Jesus help you learn to live in the aspect of respect as you create healthy, Christ-centered boundaries. Study God’s word and let him show you how much he loves and respects you.
4. Responsibility. God created us as individuals, and we will be held accountable individually in front of Jesus one day. Once we receive Christ’s salvation, we are responsible to grow in a personal relationship with him daily. As we get closer to him and work with him, he transforms us into his likeness. He helps us mature the fruits of the Holy Spirit in us as we strengthen our faith.
Only we can choose our thoughts, attitudes, words, actions, and spiritual beliefs. Therefore, we alone are responsible for these choices in our life. Taking responsibility for our thoughts, attitudes, choices, words, actions, and consequences allows us to learn and grow. Responsibility ignites our power to see new options and make new choices. It helps us make choices that would mirror what Jesus would choose.
Disciples of Jesus must take responsibility for how we treat others and how we allow others to treat us. Being responsible includes knowing how to draw healthy personal boundaries in Christ’s love that protect our heart, emotions, body, and sprit from those who would hurt us. The closer we are to Christ, the healthier our love, boundaries, and relationships will be. If you feel helpless and responsible for others, I encourage you to learn about boundaries from Dr. Cloud and Townsend and study the life of Jesus.
Live in Christ’s Love and Change Your Life
If you want to understand more about how you can live in Christ’s love, sign up to receive the launch date for the book and workbook of Quest for Exceptional Love, Transform your love and relationships through Christ’s love design! These books can help you discover and eliminate the lies you have believed about love by learning to walk with Jesus in his love design.