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Summary: Realize that some people grow up in families where destructive behavior goes without punishment. My own family thought it was OK to drink to a point where drunken behavior was not recognized as a problem. As a consequence there was very little anger manag

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Determining Your Own Boundaries

I Thes. 2:11,12 - "For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory."

We all need to allow the Holy Spirit to urge us on to higher levels of self-control. Without a continuing refining, renewing and rethinking we will not be able to ascend to the higher levels of Christ-likeness. The following are several guidelines to help us climb the ladder of greater self-control by setting limits on emotional, relational and personal problems that hinder our growth and fruitfulness.

Too many people allow others to control, manipulate or coerce them to do things that are not in the will of God. We need to develop a Christ empowered maturity that helps us set healthy self-determined boundaries. Here are a few guidelines that are modified from Dr. Henry Cloud’s book, "Boundaries from pa. 219-220:

1. Discover what are some of the problems of not being able to say no to your sinful desires. Some people suffer from depression, fear, impatience, superficial relationships, struggles, isolation, work related problems or psychosomatic difficulties because they cannot practice a Spirit led self-controlled lifestyle. (Gal. 5:22,23) Ask the Lord to help you recognize and renounce and replace these faulty tendencies with the fruit of self-control.

2. Ask the Lord to help search your heart to find ways to train yourself for godly thinking, reacting, and behaving. Some people have never learned to say no to their cravings, fears or feelings of anger. It may be that one has never experienced the consequences of failing to be disciplined in work, in relationships or personal habits.

3. Realize that some people grow up in families where destructive behavior goes without punishment. My own family thought it was OK to drink to a point where drunken behavior was not recognized as a problem. As a consequence there was very little anger management and much mental, verbal and emotional abuse resulted. Ask the Lord to help you to bring all of these hurts to Him so He can heal and restore you with His love, grace and truth.

4. Recognize that some people get their needs met through distorted or carnal means. Even though we have sexual needs some individuals depend on pornography to satisfy their cravings. We will feel alive only when we allow the Lord Jesus to live out His abundant life through us. Ask the Lord to help you put restraints into your lifestyle so you can fill it up with what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praise-worthy. (Phil. 4:8)

5. Reconsider how some of us allow the fear of certain relationships to control us. Christ has set us free from the slavery of people pleasing tendencies. Just as the Galatians has to re-evaluate their sinful tendencies to give in to the pressure of the Judaizers, so we have to set boundaries up when we feel ourselves trying to please others more than the Lord. Paul wrote, "Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." (Gal. 1:10) Ask the Lord to help you to focus on doing everything as to the Lord and not to men knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of your inheritance. It is the Lord Jesus Christ whom we serve and not men."

6. Relinquish any emotional hurts, hunger or handicaps that you feel you have to the Lord’s control. When we turn over our emotional rights to the Lord He will always bear every burden.

Illustration: When I think back how the Lord healed all of my emotional wounds while serving a missionary in Nigeria for nearly twenty years, it is a testimony of His all sufficient grace. One of my favorite hymns that God used to healed and restore me emotionally went something like this:

"Are you weary, are you heavy-hearted. Tell it to Jesus. Tell it to Jesus. Are you grieving over joys departed. Tell it to Jesus alone. Tell it to Jesus. Tell it to Jesus. He is a friend that’s well known. You’ve no other such a friend or brother. Tell it to Jesus alone."

Jesus wants us to cast all of our care upon Him because He cares for us. Otherwise, the devil and our sinful nature will take those wounded emotions and make us bitter, resentful, angry and impatient. Do not look for emotional love from anyone until you have filled your heart up with the love from the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

7. Renounce any legalistic tendency to use rules, regulations and self-will to empower you with personal limitations. Only the Holy Spirit’s leading, directing and enabling will be enough to overcome our human limitations. The word of God is profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness so that the man of God can be equipped, thoroughly furnished for all good works. (2 Tim. 3:16,17) People who have grown up in legalistic settings were not allowed to make decisions for themselves and consequently resort to external rules to keep them in line. The Galatians fell into these traps and Paul had to rebuke Barnabas and Peter for their failure to use Spirit led boundary setting instead of falling back on the Jewish legalistic tendencies.

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