Unconditional Love and Boundaries…
The two almost seem like polar opposites. We seem to think that unconditional love means love without boundaries. But that’s not the case.
In order to deeply love someone, there has to be boundaries.
Love with no boundaries leads to resentment and pain, for one person or both.
Yes, God’s love for us is endless and made new each day (Lamentations 3:22-23). Yes, even when we fail Him. But the boundary that rebounds us back into his mercy and grace after we fail is repentance and only that can open the pathway to reuniting with the Father.
Bring the concept of unconditional love down to earth and it get’s even harder to understand.
“But you don’t know what they did to me”
“They don’t deserve anything from me”
“They lied. They cheated. They stole. They aren’t consistent. They fell off…”
Whatever it is, we’ve heard it or said it.. or maybe we’ve even done it.
Why should I show them love?
Because how many times could God have said the same things about us?
Colossians 3:13, TLB Be gentle and ready to forgive; never hold grudges. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Ephesians 4:31, NIV Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.
Mark 11:25-26, NIV And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.
Matthew 6:12, NIV And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
Colossians 3:13, NLT Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Matthew 18:21-22, NCV Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, when my fellow believer sins against me, how many times must I forgive him? Should I forgive him as many as seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, you must forgive him more than seven times. You must forgive him even if he wrongs you seventy times seven.
But how do we show God’s love to others and yet not act like a doormat?
I think that’s where boundaries come in. I’m just now learning how to draw healthy boundaries for myself and how to respect others. I tend to have an obsessive personality. My ADHD makes me want to go all in or nothing at all. But we can forgive others and take a step back. We can also forgive others and not “punish” them.
We can correct others and offer alternative solutions on how we would like to be treated without yelling, cussing, & being outright ugly. If we are going out of our way to be spiteful after we feel wronged then we are no better than the person that wronged us in the first place… and sometimes dare I even say worse. Sure we can say “they should have known better.” But let’s be honest, unfortunately many people really just don’t know or are walking around so mindless they are just existing.
Saying “Hey I don’t appreciate that” or “that isn’t how I operate” or “I’m not comfortable with how you’re speaking to me” is NOT being mean or rude or unChrist like. It’s when we stoop to their level that get’s us operating in our flesh… and that’s where we mess up.
It’s okay to respectfully draw a boundary and then remove yourself if they refuse to respect your boundary. And I’ve been guilty on both ends there before.
Because even when we think about God’s love… yes he offers us ENDLESS chances to ask for forgiveness and truly repent and let Him make us new. But in the end… we have a choice. And if we continuously abuse his forgiveness or reject Him by not actually making Him God of our lives (talking the talk, but not walking the walk)… God will draw the ultimate boundary resulting in eternal separation from Him (2 Thessalonians 1:5-12)
And even then, I don’t think God “stops loving” someone, but He is righteous and he has to respect his own Holy boundaries in the end.
“Unconditional love should not lead to unconditional disrespect.” If it does, then you need a boundary. But realize, that boundary is MORE about you than them. Sure, you don’t deserve to be disrespected in the first place. However, you also can’t afford to be pulled down and tempted to sin on their level.
We are called to forgive and love others, but it’s better to love from a distance than to be pulled into chaos that produces sinful fruits.
Matthew 5:30 states: “And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.”
If the Bible uses this to illustrate the impact of being pulled into sin by your own hand, then I think that also gives you instruction to “cut” someone else out of your inner life if you’ve tried to help them and the only thing that they are doing for you is leading YOU into sin.
God’s boundaries for us
My realization and prayer is this:
Lord, your boundaries for us are actually what sets us free from sin & the chains that trap us to them. Your boundaries aren’t meant to cage us in and make us feel left out and alone. You don’t want us to sin because every single sin, in some way, destroys a relationship… either with ourselves, someone else, or with you. Every thought or action that is considered sin is something that you are trying to PROTECT us from. Because the price of sin is pain, whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.
“Boundaries are a Biblical method of guarding your heart,” (Bobby Chandler).
Proverbs 4:23 – Above all else, guard your heart, for it determines the course of your life.
Jeremiah 17: 9-10 – The human heart is the most deceitful of all tings & desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I, the Lord, search all heart and examine secret motives.
When God changes your heart, you have to PROTECT IT at all costs!