Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17
When my youngest daughter was a toddler, my wife and I took our daughter to a state park near where I grew up in western Maryland. The park is up on the side of a large mountain and overlooks the town below. To say the views are spectacular would be an understatement. When the leaves begin to change it is a thing of beauty. Our daughter, who was learning to walk, wanted to get a closer view and started to head towards the edge. Fortunately, mom was quick on her feet and swooped her up. An added layer of protection was a guardrail that keep people from the steep drop off that lied on the other side.
Guardrails protect us from danger. Anytime we get behind the wheel of a car, ride our bike or walk on a trail; we notice these guardrails. These boundaries are there to keep us from heading to places we shouldn’t go. They alert us to danger on the other side. But, here’s the thing. Boundaries aren’t only necessary in our everyday experiences. They are critical in our spiritual life where we pursue integrity and reflecting God’s character.
Boundaries are important because no matter who you are, what you struggle with, whether you’re a Christian or not, married or not, in school, have a job...no matter who you are, one fact remains true: our greatest regret relationally, morally, or ethically--whether in the past or yet to come--could have been or can be avoided. Avoiding these regrets have almost everything to do with boundaries.
Our natural tendency is to push ourselves to the limit and get as close to the line as possible. From our limited perspective, boundaries appear restrictive. Nothing about them seems freeing. We want to live our lives without restraint. What we don’t realize is the regret that lies on the other side.
Rather than restricting our life, boundaries free us to live a life without worry of a moral fender bender or worse yet a complete wreck. No one has ever said they’ve regretted setting up boundaries, but numerous people can tell you story after story about the chaos that a lack of guardrails in their lives created.
It is critical we establish boundaries that influence both our actions and our words. We need to pay attention to the way we walk. We must steward our influence well, and this begins by protecting one’s integrity. Each one of us has areas in our life that left to our own devices we’d get in trouble by giving up control of our heart and mind to something or someone else.
Chances are good you already know where you need to plant a guardrail, where you need a personal standard of behavior that informs your heart. Setting boundaries is a way of preserving yourself for God’s plans for your life. You have no idea what God has in store for your future, and you could miss it if you don’t set up healthy boundaries.
What guardrails do you need to set up to protect your character and integrity?
God, open my eyes to the places where I’m vulnerable. Help me to avoid the danger on the other side by creating boundaries in my life. May I steward my influence well by protecting my integrity. In Your name, Jesus. Amen.