“For there are many rebellious people who engage in useless talk and deceive others. This is especially true of those who insist on circumcision for salvation.” (Titus 1:10 NLT)
Driving home from a visit with my daughter, who lives in Seattle, Washington, I passed through a lot of open country. Eastern Washington, Montana, and Wyoming were beautiful and vast, but I noticed a lot of fencing. Obviously, the people who owned large areas of acreage didn’t want there to be any misunderstanding as to when you entered and left their property.
As Jesus followers we belong to Jesus; we are HIS “property.” And while we may be tempted to take offense at that statement, it’s no less true. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 “Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
That seems so foreign to the way we think these days, even as believers. So, what does it mean? The context is sexual sin, which, of course, takes many avenues of expression today. But there are also other applications of this idea.
As it relates to our body. In ANY relationship we need to establish boundaries. There are people with whom we have contact every day, from a neighbor to a co-worker, friend, or family member, to strangers we encounter while shopping or doing any number of other things we do in the course of our day.
Admittedly, under most circumstances our contact with others is above board and harmless, but there are times we’re given opportunities to cross lines in our thought life or physically that can not only test our Christian convictions but threaten our marriages or other relationships we value. How so?
Sometimes people we see trigger thoughts that should send up “red flags” in our heart and mind. Why? Because they send our mind down pathways that only lead to sin, not only in thought, but in actions. And I’m not just speaking here of sexual or lustful thoughts, but thoughts that can lead to envy, jealousy, or gossip, all of which can hinder or damage our reputation or character.
That’s why we need to create boundaries, not only physically, but spiritually, in our hearts and minds in order to protect our character and our witness for Christ. B.J. Thompson wrote: “Beware of any relationship that will not allow you to communicate your boundaries.” How might that translate?
Let’s say there’s a neighbor, friend, or co-worker who is constantly making inappropriate comments about other people. They may be observations based on how someone is dressed, or related to their anatomy, that take your mind places you don’t desire it to go. Or it could be a reference to a person’s character that has the potential of leading you to think negatively about that person. Or it could just be that they always view the proverbial “cup” as half empty. These are areas in which you need to have boundaries, in terms of not only what you will look at, but what you will listen to.
You may need to say something to them regarding how inappropriate what they’re saying or suggesting is, or just limit the time you spend with them. Our goal as believers is to feed our mind on what is pure, holy, right, and Christ-honoring. King David reminds us: “May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.”
Setting boundaries in our thought life can protect us in every other area of our lives. We’ll look at another aspect of setting boundaries in tomorrow’s post.
Blessings, Ed 😊