Part 4 of 7 – Outside the Box… Inside the Lines… Series

Bible Reading:

  • Isaiah 28:1-12
  • Galatians 3:1-29
  • Psalms 119:25-32
  • Matthew 7:1-12
  • 2 Corinthians 12:1-10

Often we feel uncomfortable in new environments because we do not know the “rules”. We generally work quickly to understand what is expected and how things work, then we are more comfortable.

God established the principles by which life and relationships operate. Often we live ignorant of these principles and experience unnecessary difficulties.

Psalms 119:14-16 (NLT) I have rejoiced in your laws as much as in riches. 15 I will study your commandments and reflect on your ways. 16 I will delight in your decrees and not forget your word.

Once we discover how things work, we are better equipped to live life’s rewards and avoid its consequences. Let’s learn five of the ten laws that enable us to draw healthy lines in life.

The Law Of Sowing and Reaping

Galatians 6:7 (MSG) Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest…

We often attribute our troubles in life to God’s judgment, but they are often outcomes to unhealthy behaviors.  If you don’t take care of your health, you could get sick. That’s not God’s wrath, it’s a simple outcome of poor choices.

In order to live wisely in life and take responsibility for ourselves, we need to accept this law and stop taking responsibility for the consequences of others. We often try to “tell” people things and they resent us for it. (Proverbs 9:8). They would learn far more quickly by simply experiencing their own consequences. For that to happen, we must stop “paying” their consequences. We do this by not helping them out of jams created by their own poor choices.

The Law of Responsibility

Galatians 5:13 (NLT) For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.

We are called to LOVE one another, not BE one another. When someone is experiencing real need in life, we are to help. However, if the real need is because of sinful behavior, we need to step back and let the Law of Sowing and Reaping do its work.

Many of us are very quick with our “yes” usually because of internal fears.  Start asking the question, what is my responsibility here? And, what is your responsibility? Take time before committing to a course of action. And, when pressured, realize there is manipulation involved and it belongs outside of your lines.  Choices become much sweeter when we are actually free to make them.

The Law of Power

We can’t change things outside of ourselves.  When we try to control the responsibilities of others,

in order to somehow repair our own situation, we set ourselves up for failure. We simply do not have the power to change others. It is possible to influence others but only as we use the power we do possess to change ourselves.

2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT) Each time he (God) said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.

As we surrender to God’s Truth and the help of other believers, we discover greater strength to change ourselves. Personal change is a powerful influence on others.

The Law of Respect

Matthew 7:12 (NLT) “Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.

If we desire respect, we must also give respect. As we begin to establish our responsibilities, we will want others to respect our lines.  So, we need to respect theirs as well. Give other people the freedom to make their own choices. Do we really need to understand why they said no?  Probably not. Nor, should we feel the need to frequently explain ourselves. It’s a matter of respect.

The Law of Motivation

1 Corinthians 13:3 (NLT) If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

An honest “NO” is better than a resentful “YES”.  Until we are truly free to say “no”, we will never be able to wholeheartedly say “yes”.  One of the key reasons that we need healthy boundaries in our life is that we are able to give real love. Real love is not filled with resentment, anger, judgment, or regret. It is expressed in joy, peace, and gentleness.

Think about these first five laws.  If you discover that you are experiencing consequences in your relationships because you have been unaware of them, talk to God about it and then a Christian friend.  There is hope. There is a way into more fulfilling relationships.

Talk About It…

    • What are your first thoughts regarding today’s topic? Please share with the group.
    • Review Galatians 6:7-8. Have you ever blamed God for natural consequences? What could someone do about that?
    • Discuss the things that we actually have the power to do. How do we assume power that is not ours? How do we try to control others?
    • Discuss times you have felt manipulated. How is manipulation disrespectful? How might we better respect the responses of others to our requests?
    • Have you ever committed to something you didn’t want to do? Why? How did you feel about doing it? How could you have acted in love rather than resentment?
    • Discuss the statement, “Until we are free to say “no”, we cannot wholeheartedly say “yes”.”
    • Is there anything in today’s topic that you would be excited to share with a friend?

Additional Resources:

Adapted from “Boundaries: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life” Cloud, Townsend

Chapter 5 – The Ten Laws of Boundaries