I’ve been reading the book “Boundaries” which I recommended earlier, and i was just asked this question in a comment. [see previous boundaries post] I was asked this same question from some one else whom I personally recommended this book to.
“I just wonder…did Jesus have boundaries when he walked on this earth? I have not seen an example of that in scripture.”
I think the fact that we ask this question, speaks for itself, in that we didn’t realize how clearly personal spiritual boundaries ARE emphasized in the scripture, and how ministering to others is all about doing it with in the right boundaries. You should read the book to get the whole picture of what’s being said. I recommend, really ,every one I know should read this book. Here are a few thoughts from other sources, from around the web commentating on this subject:
Esther Rennick (Fredericton, New Brunswick CANADA), March 06, 2008
“People need to hear and be reassured it is OK to say no. Christians need to hear it is OK to be angry and that anger serves a purpose in our lives. I needed a reminder that it was OK for me to say no and that it was OK for me to be angry. There is a lot of talk and opinions about “setting boundaries”. Many people need to be educated in order to understand boundaries, set healthy boundaries, and put them into action. This book meets that need. This book educates. This book reminds Christians that there was more to Jesus personality than just making everyone happy and being sweet and encouraging all the time. Jesus got angry. Jesus confronted. Jesus set boundaries. Are you like Jesus? Do you understand this part of his personality? Do you know “how” to be like him in confrontation, anger and boundaries? This book will give you the tools to help you grow in these areas of your life. It is a “must read”!”
“Jesus set boundaries. Jesus has been called “a man for others,” and that is certainly who he was — but he never let “others” tell him who to be or what to do. No one told Jesus how to fulfill his purpose. In Luke 4 we see a story where the crowd is looking for Jesus and His disciples find Jesus and tell Him that He needs to not go off to be alone with God because there is a crowd that is expecting to see Him. But I want you to see that even though Jesus came to serve people, but he didn’t let anyone’s needs, or requests, or expectations, or opinions, or demands dictate how he spent his time and how he organized his life. He was a servant — he gave his life for them — but he didn’t surrender to them. You know each one of us if we are going to live a balanced, healthy life we too need to learn how to draw the line and not allow the expectations of others to control us. We have a mission too and we need to stay focused.
Too many people today are living unhealthy lives. We need to follow Jesus’ example and apply these principles that will help us to not only be more effective but will also help us to be healthier physically, emotionally and spiritually.”
Group: Member +
Of course Jesus had boundaries, he was no doormat! He rebuked his disciples, and the Pharisees. He overturned the tables of the money lenders. He stood up for what he belived in with the priests and scribes.
“Things you don’t get and will never get from an abuser: Love, respect, cooperation, compromise, dignity, peace, trust, honesty, and closure.” – me, 4 January 2007
Feb 6 2007, 08:04 PM
I just realized this. I remember the story of Jesus overturning the table in the church & standing up for what he thought was right.
I learned this.
But for some reason, what I walked away with, what I felt was drilled into my head by ‘caregiving’ teachers was that I had to be compassionate & so compassionate I couldnt’ set boundaries up at all. I see H’s aunt doing this & when I tried to finally set up a boundary w/ H his family got angry with me for not being sympathetic enough to his ‘illness.’
& these are the people I learned this ridiculous compassion stuff from. I look back on that period in my life & I see I put up with a lot of BS from some people because I thought I had to to show I cared about them. Ick.
& I’m glad I asked this question because I thought I was trying to follow the example of great teachers like Jesus & well, I just definitely wasn’t & for some reason this thought finally occurred to me. I really did learn the wrong thing & I’m glad I’m learning the right thing.
Feb 7 2007, 08:45 AM
This is just my opinion,
but people who are not able to set their own boundaries are codependants.
So the question to me reads: Was jesus a codependant?
heck NO! he was absolutely sure of himself and completed the tasks that HE knew he had to do regardless of the amount of resistance he met. He was the opposite of codependant.
Sermon on “Boundaries and Well-Being”
click “read more”
K J Linder, 3/20/08
Sermon “Boundaries and Well-Being”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus makes an astounding statement that, over
the centuries, has led to an enormous amount of debate about his meaning.
38 “You have heard that it was said, ‘AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A
TOOTH.’ 39 “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps
you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. 40 “If anyone wants to
sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.
Jesus says don’t resist an evil person, and if someone asks for something, give it
to him. Jesus says, don’t resist and don’t set limits on evil. Some of us have
asked ourselves, “is this really what Jesus wants us to do?” Now, we find in
Jesus’ own life something very interesting. He does something opposite of what
he says here in the Sermon on the Mount. Do you remember before Jesus went
to the cross when Jesus was on trial before the High Priest and was struck by an
officer and how he handled that? John 18:23 tells us, Jesus answered him,
“If I have spoken wrongly, testify of the wrong; but if rightly, why do you
Does this look like turning the other cheek to you? Instead of turning the other
cheek, Jesus challenges the officer’s strike. On another occasion, Jesus again
teaches something opposite of turning the other check when he says in Luke
17:3 “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents,
forgive him. Here again, rebuke doesn’t sound like turning the other cheek, but
instead resisting evil. We may wonder how we can reconcile Jesus’ teaching in
Luke 17 with what he said in the Sermon on the Mount about not resisting evil.
The answer is that Jesus is teaching two different responses to evil. Jesus
provides wisdom for each of us to know how to respond to evil in each individual
case that we encounter. Sometimes the wise response to evil is to turn the other
cheek and let people have what they want, even when it seems unjust. Like
when Jesus allowed himself to be crucified. At other times, the wise response to
evil is to resist evil directly by setting limits on it. Of these two different
responses, this morning we are going to focus on protecting ourselves from bad
things and preserving good things by setting limits.
Another word for a limit is a boundary. Boundaries are lines that mark a limit,
bound, or border. An example of a boundary in the physical world is a fence
around a property. In the physical world, the fences are visible, but in the interpersonal
world, the fences or boundaries are invisible. Just like in the physical
world, in the interpersonal world, boundaries help us to distinguish our property
so that we can take care of it. Among other things, our boundaries mark what we
will allow and what we will not allow in our yard, that is, in our lives. Boundaries
help us to keep the good in and the bad out. Boundaries help us to know when
to say “yes” and when to say “no.” Having healthy boundaries is vital for having
quality relationships, which is an important area of growth for our church.
This message is the first of a three part series in which we are going to look at
the topic of boundaries based on the best selling book “Boundaries” by Henry
Cloud and John Townsend. Also, beginning next Sunday, Glenna is going to be
teaching the adult Sunday School class on this topic to help you to further study
and apply the principles of boundaries.
Boundaries are basically anything that helps to differentiate you from someone
else. The most basic boundary that defines you is your physical skin. People
often use their boundary of skin as a metaphor for saying that their interpersonal
boundaries have been violated. They say, “He really gets under my skin.” Our
skin boundary keeps the good in and the bad out. Our skin boundary keeps the
germs outside, protecting us from infection. At the same time, skin has openings
that let the good in, like food.
How can we create boundaries? We can create boundaries, with our words.
The most basic boundary setting word is “no.” Many passages of Scripture urge
us to say “no” to others’ sinful treatment of us such as we looked at earlier from
Luke 17 when Jesus said, “if your brother sins, rebuke him.” The word “no” is a
confrontational word. God wants us to confront people and say, “No, that
behavior is not OK.” Can you think of someone in your life that you need to
begin saying “no” to? Perhaps they are treating you in a disrespectful way,
raising their voice at you, using profanity around you, not keeping their
commitments to you, asking more than you have the resources to give. In those
cases you can set a boundary by saying, “No, that behavior is not OK.” We can
easily recognize the sin of the person who is mistreating us. But we are also
sinning if we allow the mistreatment and we don’t set boundaries on their
behavior. On the one hand, we need to set boundaries, on the other hand,
perhaps you are in the opposite situation and you need to apologize to someone
for violating his boundaries.
In addition to saying “no,” another boundary we can use is physical distance. We
can physically remove ourselves in order to replenish ourselves physically,
emotionally, and spiritually, after we have given to our limits. On some occasions
(such as in Mark 6:30-32) Jesus left the crowds he ministered to, to be alone so
that he could replenish himself.
We can also use the boundary of physical distance in order to avoid harm. This
is referred to in Proverbs 22:3 The prudent sees the evil and hides himself,
But the naive go on, and are punished for it. This Scripture shows that we
can physically remove ourselves from a situation in order to set a boundary. We
can physically remove ourselves from those who continue to hurt us and go to a
We have seen that boundaries help to keep the good in and the bad out.
However, some of us have a different problem. We have bad on the inside and
good on the outside. Those of us in this situation need to be able to open up our
boundaries to let the bad out and let the good in. The way this happens is to
have gates in the fences of our boundaries. Boundaries are not impenetrable
walls. The Bible does not say that we are to be walled off from others, but that
the fences of our boundaries need gates. Through this gate, through interaction
with Jesus and others, the good can come in and the bad can get out. We may
have some sin that we are struggling with that God wants us to confess to him or
to others. Or perhaps we are hurting inside because of some loss or stress in
our lives. We can confess that to God or others. When we do these things we
can get forgiveness and healing as we read about in the book of James.
16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another
so that you may be healed.
Is there bad in you that you need to get out so it can be dealt with, such as sin or
hurt? Is there good outside of you that you need to let in, such as forgiveness
and healing? In addition to opening the gates of our boundaries by confessing
our sin or hurt to get it out and receive forgiveness and healing, God also wants
us to open the gates of our boundaries so we can give love to others and receive
love from others. Paul speaks about this to the Corinthians.
2 Corinthians 6:11-13
11 Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart is opened
wide. 12 You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own
affections. 13 Now in a like exchange—I speak as to children—open wide to
Paul says in verse 11 that his heart is opened wide to the Corinthians. In effect,
Paul is saying that he has opened the gates of his boundaries to the Corinthians.
Paul is not closed and self-protective toward the Corinthians, but wants to give
love to them and receive love from them. He is asking for the same openness so
that they can give love to him and receive love from him. When we find safe
people that we can open up to and be ourselves with then we can experience
this same giving and receiving of love. Boundaries are not to inhibit this giving
and receiving of love, but to enhance it.
We have seen the value of boundaries, but most of us struggle with setting
boundaries. Improving our ability to set boundaries will require prayer, effort, and
the support of others. Just as we need to exercise and work with an atrophied
leg after it comes out of its cast, setting appropriate boundaries is an ability we
can learn. Here are some steps to take in learning to set boundaries.
1. Be honest about your anger about others violating your boundaries.
Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin.” People who have
difficulty setting boundaries are often angry because they feel like other people
have power over them. They have not realized that they have given that power
to those other people. Often the first step to reclaiming ownership of power is to
admit the anger to themselves, God, and others.
2. Ask God to help you become a truth-teller, even of negative truth. A sign that
you are beginning to set boundaries is that you will rock some boats. If people
rarely get angry with you, you probably need to set more boundaries. Jesus
said, “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for in the same way their
fathers used to treat the false prophets.”
3. Cultivate relationships with people who encourage use of your boundaries,
instead of disliking your boundaries. The people closest to you should love your
“no” as much as they love your “yes.” If those closest to you affirm your “yes,”
but withdraw, throw tantrums, or attack when you say “no,” you have boundary
problem to work on.
To wrap up, we have seen that boundaries are lines that mark a limit, bound, or
border. Among other things, our boundaries mark what we will allow and what
we will not allow in our lives. The most basic boundary setting word is “no.”
Many passages of Scripture urge us to say “no” to others’ sinful treatment of us.
In addition to saying “no,” we can physically remove ourselves from a situation in
order to set a boundary. Boundaries help to keep the good on the inside and the
bad on the outside. However, sometimes instead of having good on the inside
and bad on the outside we have the opposite situation, in which we have bad on
the inside and good on the outside. In these instances, we need to be able to
open up the gate of our boundaries to let the bad out and let the good in. When
we find safe people that we can open up to and who can open up to us then we
can give and receive love as God designed.
Many of us struggle with setting boundaries for various reasons. Perhaps we
have never learned that setting limits is OK for a Christian to do, perhaps we are
afraid of others rejection of us if we set boundaries with them. Or perhaps we
have the opposite problem, we have walled ourselves off, have shut all of our
gates and we do not let others in for fear of being hurt or for some other reason.
Whatever we may be struggling with, Jesus provides the answer. Remember we
saw that sometimes Jesus resisted evil, but sometimes he did not resist evil.
Jesus did not resist the evil of those who crucified him. He opened the gates of
his boundaries and let them nail him to the cross. He took our sin upon himself
so that the power of sin in our lives could be broken. Whatever sin is in the way
of our setting healthy boundaries, Jesus has provided the solution through the
cross. Lets ask him to release that power to us now.