Boundaries can function to keep good things in and bad things out. For example, we may fence our yard to help keep our pet from wandering away, while at the same time, keep strangers out. However, when it comes to our heart, our temptation to build boundaries can lead to unintended consequences.
For protection reasons, some may put a guard up in order to prevent people from getting too close to them. Then others, for selfish reasons, may elect to close-off their heart to keep themselves from getting too close with others. Either way, by keeping our potential to love fenced-in and others’ love fenced-out, we inadvertently limit Kingdom opportunities. This doesn’t mean we throw caution and discernment to the wind, but it does mean we consider the reasons we might be living fenced lives. Thankfully, God can expand our hearts and as a result, our perspectives so that we can genuinely love and effectively minister to as many people as possible:
Blood: These are our relatives. We have no control in choosing them, and they can be either the hardest, or easiest to love. Interestingly, Jesus teaches us to look beyond just our blood relatives as it relates to family (Matthew 12:50). This for many of us isn’t natural and can be very difficult to grasp. However, isn’t this what godparents represent? Even though not as popular today, godparents were often friends so close, they were trusted with the spiritual and physical care of another’s child in the event something happened to the parents. So, here’s the tough question – do we limit our boundaries to only include blood relatives, even when they may not be the best examples and role models in our lives?
Body: These represent fellow Christians, who are believers and followers of Jesus Christ. They aren’t perfect people by any stretch of the imagination, but they are repentant and sincere seekers of The Lord. How close do we allow ourselves to become with them? Do we keep a safe distance, or truly embrace the opportunity to connect? This is also difficult in that we can be let down, and flaws will be revealed when we get close. However, when we allow ourselves to love and be loved, we are better equipped to be the encouragers we’re called to be, rather than just church critics, or acquaintances (John 13:35).
Broken: These are those broken from Christ and the church. Those who have rejected Jesus, or do not know Him. How do we love and accept love from them? Do we intimately intertwine our lives with theirs? After all, some of these may also be our blood relatives. Thankfully, God teaches us through His word that our response is to pray and be a positive contribution. Meaning, we are to impact their lives by reflecting Jesus in all we do – never conforming to their standards, but transforming our surroundings through God’s standards of reliable stewardship, trustworthy servitude, generosity, gratitude and consistent prayer (1 Peter 2:12).
Application: “Wide Open!” – 1 Chronicles 4:10
The prayer of Jabez has been studied by respected Biblical scholars, and I definitely can’t add anything new to their commentary. However, I can share it has taken on a powerful new meaning to me recently. As Jabez prays for God to enlarge His borders, I now share his plea with more clarity and sincerity. For my borders have been the borders of my heart. Oh, how I pray for God to break down these borders and empower me to love as He has called me to love. So that I may live out my time without boundaries, but with a heart wide open and always devoted to Him.