Boundaries are what mark the end of properties or jurisdictions and the beginning of another. In interpersonal relationships, boundaries are what separate an individual from one another. For instance, you have a boundary around your home and your boss cannot come in unless you permit him or her to do so. However, such a boss can enter your office whenever he wants to. The difference between the two scenarios is the boundary, and this article discusses Bible verses about boundaries.
We can apply the idea of boundaries to not only physical space and time, but to all aspects of life. Your beliefs, relationships, thoughts, and many other things should have personal boundaries that are set around them. In fact, whatever you have authority over, you should set a boundary around. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that the bible supports and encourage us to set up personal boundaries.
Why Personal Boundaries Are Important According to The Bible
A personal boundary is a defining line that marks where a person begins and also separates one’s identity from others. It also helps to define what you have authority over and what you don’t. Having read this, it’s quite obvious that without boundaries, one can be led astray by others; especially ones eager to control areas of one’s life that doesn’t belong to them.
Boundaries help us take responsibility for our own lives; they are closely related to self-control. In Titus 2:12, the bible admonishes us to control ourselves, which contradict our human desire to control others. Personal boundaries then help to limit or eradicate our selfish inclination to manipulate or control others.
At the same time, boundaries help us to stay protected from those who wish to control us and those who are also without self-control. We can all agree that it is only a sane person with clear and healthy boundaries that communicates with others about what is permissible and what is not (as far as boundaries are concerned).
Having said that, we will realize that boundaries can be used in both healthy and sinful ways. Once the motive is examined, the type of boundary is exposed. When one is protecting himself or someone weaker from harm, from both emotional and physical harm, it can be deduced that the motive is sincere and that will pass as a healthy boundary. However, if boundaries are being set to maintain distance or create cliques, they are discouraged.
The bible then preaches how personal boundaries help to keep out worldly influences. There are many scriptures as such.
For instance, 2 Corinthians 6:14 says:
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
James 4:4 also says:
Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes an enemy of God.
You can begin to see how important the issue of boundary setting is. In fact, in the garden of Eden when the first set of humans were on earth, they had boundaries. God said to them not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
There are many examples of personal boundaries in the bible that God Himself sets for His people. And the reason for that is so that they can be protected.
There are different areas of our lives that the bible instructs that we have personal boundaries. Let’s take a look at those areas.
Personal Boundaries with Our Beliefs
It can be argued that the most important boundary is in the bible where God has placed on believers the area of our beliefs. This is clear in the bible; God instructs us to believe only certain things.
It comes without much saying that in order to please the Lord, we need to place personal boundaries around what we believe and must refuse to take in old and new worldly lies. It is also important to place boundaries around our beliefs because this will help us stay on track track with God and remain within the sacred truths the Bible preaches.
1 John 4:1-3 explains what our attitude should be concerning this matter:
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this, you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God.
That bible verse has given us a clear distinction of the line we should never cross about our beliefs. Once a belief does not recognize Jesus Christ as Lord or that He lived in the world as a man, it should be rejected and never allowed into our personal beliefs. We should, under no circumstance, open the gate of our hearts to any beliefs that do not recognize Jesus Christ as Lord or contradict His words and the Bible.
Boundaries with Identity
It is relatively impossible to discuss boundaries and not mention identity. The central idea behind the boundary is to have a protected and distinct identity. Boundaries help to separate a person from others and protect him from the type of living that is seen in the world.
2 Corinthians 5:16-17 clearly examines the issue of identity as it relates to boundaries:
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
It is clear from the Bible passage that, as believers, we must have boundaries with our identity; we must regard no one according to the flesh. The Bible also says that first and foremost, we are regarded by Jesus Christ. We can be a doctor, teacher, engineer, dad, son, mom or daughter, and so many other things. However, if you are Christian, you are not these things first.
You are a Christian. You are different from the world. You are far away from the control of Satan. You are a new creation. That is what you are; no more, no less.
Boundaries in Our Thought Life
God has entrusted thought processes to all humans. We can decide what we think about and how. But if we don’t have boundaries in our thought life, again, we will go astray and we can ultimately lose our place with God.
Thankfully, God preaches personal boundaries as touching our mind or thought life. We are instructed to be careful in our thought. When we think lustfully about someone, we sin. When we cuss someone in our minds, we sin and it is counted as evil in the eyes of God. When we do all of those and others in a similar fashion, we misuse the thought process God has given unto us.
Therefore, we have the responsibility of putting personal boundaries around what we think about. We must know when we are going beyond our boundaries and be able to control ourselves. When we do this, we honor Christ and more away from unholiness.
Romans 8:5-6 is a perfect example of God’s mindset concerning the thought process He has given us:
For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. 6 For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
If we will are sane in the spirit, we will stay connected and not focus on the thing of the flesh. This scripture clearly shows that a boundary in our minds is necessary. And it is only when we are able to keep this boundary with the help of the Holy Spirit that we can continue to reap life and peace by God’s grace.
A Personal Boundary in Our Morals
This is perhaps the most obvious boundary in the Bible. While the Bible is a love letter to us from God and helps reveal the will of God for our lives, it also contains guidelines – limits and boundaries which we are expected to live by.
In simple terms, the Bible instructs that we should have personal boundaries in our morality. In fact, the effect of sin is simply us overstepping our boundaries. Contrary to other opinions, these boundaries are for our own good as they are healthy and they are like guardrails meant to keep us on God’s path.
Romans 13:9-10 says, “The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore, love is the fulfillment of the law.”
It is evident from that passage that our moral boundaries should indeed by governed by love. And love, in its best state, does what’s best for others. So, anytime you notice your thoughts, actions, or decisions damaging others, you are passing the healthy moral boundary – and it is time for you to retrace your steps. You must also realize that God’s commands are not there to camp or box us, but rather they are there to keep evil out of our lives and live the exact life God wants us to live.
Personal Boundaries in Our Relationships
Unsurprisingly, the Bible is not silent about boundaries in our relationships. And the reason is not far-fetched. Humans are social beings, and as such we will live and relate with others around us. In order to do that effectively, there are boundaries that must not be crossed, else conflicts will break out and we will lose ourselves.
In essence, when you become a Christian, it becomes a responsibility to live differently and thus, worthy of emulation. The Bible preaches that our relationship with other believers and that of the world should be carefully lived and with intentional boundaries put in place.
1 John 2:15-16 states:
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world-the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
It is evident from this passage that there is a certain way we are expected to relate with people around us – believers and non-believers alike.
Our perfect example, Jesus Christ dealt with people around Him differently – He had clear boundaries within His relationships. He loved and came to save sinners from their sin, but He did not entrust himself to them.
John 2:23-25 clearly testifies Jesus’ acts to unbelievers:
Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did. But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men, and had no need that anyone should testify of man, for He knew what was in man.
If you are a Bible scholar, which you should be, you will also discover that Jesus took further steps in His relationship with His disciples. He had boundaries around each individual relationship with His disciples. For instance, Peter, John, and Peter had a closer relationship with Jesus when compared to other disciples.
In fact, in John 21:21-21, when Peter was going beyond his boundary and asking Jesus about His relationship with John, he was called to order. Verse 22 says, “Jesus answered, ‘if I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.’”
In that passage, Jesus reminded Peter of his boundaries and told him to focus on himself and leave other people’s matters to themselves. More times than not, we will need to reinforce boundaries for people just like Jesus did in that passage. It will help others respect our lives and of course, our relationships.
What Does the Bible Say About Personal Boundaries?
In the end, we will realize that what Jesus did for Peter in that passage, he did for us all. He helps us to remember what our primary focus should be, what we can control, what we have influence over, and leave what we don’t. the earlier we are able to realize this, the better it is for us.
Not only can we hurt others around us if we don’t realize this, but we can also squander our whole lives away by worrying. Meanwhile, when we hold on to the personal boundaries that are in the Bible, we will thrive and our lives will be beautiful as we remain focused on ourselves.
We have a responsibility and that is to take ownership of the things God has put in our care and to allow others to take responsibility for the things in their care as well. That is the central theme of personal boundaries as found in the Bible.