Saturday, March 15, 2008


Brenda and I have been talking about church and the Christian approach to living and about boundaries. Yesterday my eye picked up a book in our lounge bookshelf; Boundaries by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend.

I paged through the book and read a passage here and there. I’ve had this book for many years and not read it until yesterday. Here’s a passage, Rule 2 of Boundaries:

‘Many times when people hear a talk on boundaries and taking responsibility for their own lives, they say, "That's so self-centered. We should love one another and deny our "selves." Or, they actually become selfish and self-centered. Or, they feel "guilty'' when they do someone a favor. These are unbiblical views of responsibility.

‘The Law of Responsibility includes loving others. The commandment to love is the entire law for Christians (Gal. 5:13-14). Jesus calls it ''my'' commandment, "Love each other as I have loved you'' (John 15:12). Anytime you are not loving others, you are not taking full responsibility for yourself; you have disowned your heart.

‘Problems arise when boundaries of responsibility are confused. We are to love one another, not be one another. I can't feel your feelings for yowl. I can't think for you. I can't behave for you. I can't work through the disappointment that limits bring for you. In short, I can't grow for you; only you can Likewise, you can't grow for me. The biblical mandate for your own personal growth is ''Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose'' (Phil. 2:12-13). You are responsible for yourself. I am responsible for myself.

‘An additional theme in the Bible says that we are to treat others the way we would want to be treated. If we were down and out, helpless and without hope, we would certainly want help and provision. This is a very important side of being responsible "to."

‘Another aspect of being responsible "to" is not only in the giving but also in the setting of limits on another's destructive and irresponsible behavior. It is not good to rescue someone from the consequences of their sin, for you will only have to do it again. You have reinforced the pattern (Prov. 19:19). It is the same principle spoken of in child rearing; it is hurtful to not have limits with others. It leads them to destruction (Prov. 23:13).

‘A strong strand throughout the Bible stresses that you are to give to needs and put limits on sin. Boundaries help you do just that.’

I strongly support the concept of not enabling someone. It has always been a dilemma for me, because it seems to contradict what’s written in the Bible i.e. to be loving and helpful and those things. This passage finally clarifies it for me, give to needs and put limits on your giving to support or enable someone’s destructive and irresponsible behavior. Proverbs 19:19 reads: “A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again.” He must pay the penalty. If you rescue, he does not pay the penalty. It does however involve a judgment; Is what he wants a need, or is it something that enables him to continue his destructive behavior? That’s a judgment, or is it?

No comments: