HOW TO LOVE THOSE WHO OVERSTEP GODLY BOUNDARIES
Written by Mindy Schuman
Have you ever thought about what your actions should look like when you love someone? These actions of love tend to come pretty easily with those we love and cherish, and who show us love and kindness in return. I want to share today about another angle to loving others, a general principle that the Bible has a lot to say about yet has become a stumbling block to some in the body of Christ.
The enemy has tried to deceive true believers in many ways, including attempting to use religion and twisting scripture to deceive believers about how to love others who overstep and cross our personal and moral boundaries. Specifically, how do we love those that demand we let them control areas of our life that don’t belong to them and that they have no authority over? The Bible is clear that we are to have and enforce personal boundaries to keep others from crossing the line and controlling areas where it is inappropriate for them to do so. In addition, by exercising personal boundaries, we avoid unnecessary temptations that we would otherwise be exposed to and save ourselves a lot of grief and turmoil. Placing Godly boundaries around our relationships can protect us and keep evil out of our lives.
The Bible is a book full of many examples of boundaries and consequences. Healthy boundaries will in many cases make healthy relationships. Unfortunately, not everyone will respect and honor your boundaries and there will be times you will have to say “no” or speak up when someone has crossed the line. Enforcing these boundaries, however, does not mean that you aren’t treating the person with love as some would have us believe. We’re not called to do anything and everything another person wants us to do in order to love them, especially those who are living ungodly lives. In many cases, if the person is living an ungodly life, by doing what they demand that you do you would be submitting to the demonic spirits in them and coming against what God would have you do.
Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.
Paul writes to the church in Rome the following:
Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.
Jesus teaches us that to glorify God and show ourselves to be His true children, we need to be pure inside and out, and to be as accommodating as possible for the sake of a lost world. To “turn the other cheek” as stated in Matthew 12:39 (below), does not mean we place ourselves or others in danger or that we ignore injustice. It means that when we are the objects of personal slights (“being slapped on the cheek”), we should not retaliate. What we should do, however, is forgive and release any offense. Furthermore, we may have to limit our interaction with certain individuals who insist on overstepping and seeking inordinate control in our lives.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But I tell you not to resist an evil person. If someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other also; if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well; and if someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘Hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.
26 Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers treated the false prophets in the same way. 27 But to those of you who will listen, I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.
Scriptures such as “do good to those who hate you” as stated in above in Luke 6:27 are spoken to the hearts of believers. Jesus wants His love to be our primary motivation for everything we do. To do good to our enemies means we are not allowing vengeance or bitterness to take root in our hearts. It does not mean that we bow to the demands of those who forcefully insist that we do what they say and control our lives, even compromising what we know to be true and scriptural living. The reality is that there are some that will accuse us of not loving them or not loving Jesus if we do not allow them full control and authority over our lives, our beliefs and actions. This is not what love looks like, and we cannot allow others to take ungodly control in our lives where it is inappropriate to do so.
I came across a comment from someone the other day that indicated, in their opinion, that as long as an individual is living for Jesus, everyone in our lives will either “run towards the light, or run away from the truth.” I don’t know about you, but I unfortunately have encountered some people, and though I was sold out for Jesus and living according to His word, they neither ran toward “the light” or ran away from me. There were some that came into my life and made it their mission to forcefully make me do and be what they thought I should and would not relent until I ended the relationship. Does this mean I failed somehow? Does this mean I didn’t love them enough or do enough to lead them to Christ? Not at all! It means that everyone has a free will, and that with some individuals we will need to enforce boundaries to protect what God has placed in us and who He has called us to be. If we fail to enforce our boundaries with ungodly or over controlling people, we could be defiled or influenced by those who seek to control where it is inappropriate to do so.
We see in scripture that Jesus had clear boundaries. While Jesus loved them and came to pay the price for their salvation, he did not entrust himself to unbelievers. He also did not entrust himself to the judgmental Pharisees who believed themselves to be the most Godly of people. Yet they were called vipers, hypocrites, snakes and more by Jesus himself when the Pharisees tried to control and condemn him during his ministry here on earth in Matthew 23:23-27 (below).
Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others. You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee, first clean the inside of the cup and of the dish, so that the outside of it may become clean also. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
In this day and time, it is imperative that we seek and ask God for, and thereby practice keen discernment so that we are not led astray and deceived by those who are being used by the enemy unknowingly. We can allow ourselves to be hurt when we tolerate and give too much control in our lives to others that does not belong to them.