Forgiveness and Boundaries

When someone offends us…harms us in some way, what’s our response?

Dismay / confusion?

Emotional outburst / anger?

Strike back / attack?

Pull back / disengage?

Set boundaries / protect?

Forgive / show mercy?

Perhaps, like me, you often experience this full list.

As a Christian, I often find it difficult to know how to respond…how to react when surprised by an untoward comment, a hurtful action, an intended injury.

Jesus said we are to turn the other cheek, go the extra mile.  He also said we are to love and give and be willing to forgive**.

I know what it is to turn the other cheek.  And, I also know what it’s like to be slapped again on the cheek offered.  I’ve gone the extra mile and found that with some people the extra mile offered is never enough.  I’ve offered kindness and had my head handed to me on a platter.

We are to live peacefully with all people as much as it is within our power to do so.

This is where boundaries come in. They offer protection when we live and work within them. Laws tell us what we can do and what others cannot do to us. The Bible teaches us that we are to live within the law and honor our government.

These laws as well as Jesus’ teachings instruct us and give us permission to have personal boundaries*.

Jesus said, “Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.” (Matthew 7:6)  That sounds like a boundary to me – what do you think?

Having healthy boundaries and maintaining them can prevent a lot of the drama we find ourselves drawn into  So can respecting the boundaries of others.

We set boundaries to define where we stop and another begins. Our boundaries identify us.

Jesus had boundaries, too. Scan through any of the Gospel books and you will find Jesus identified by His boundaries.

But, unlike with us – His boundaries didn’t keep people out.  His boundaries invited the true seeker in while filtering out all the nonsense. (Oh, to be able to filter out all the nonsense!)

Jesus’ boundaries defined Him.

Jesus was beaten, mocked, scourged, spit on, abused physically and mentally – and He threw up no boundaries to protect Himself.  He offered no defense, did not take up arms.  No – through it all Jesus begged God to forgive his abusers.  Forgive them, forgive them, forgive them…don’t zap them, don’t pulverize them, don’t stop them, don’t punish them…. Forgive them.

Why? Because he looked beyond His pain and saw my need.  He saw my need of a Savior.  And, the only way that need could be met was to see things through. To forgive and move forward – to the cross, in death, by resurrecting….

Jesus forgave those who hurt him because of His great love – for me…for you…for all of us.

Jesus’ boundaries give us a clear view of His identity.

What do your boundaries tell others about you?

*More about personal boundaries

**More about forgiveness

(This marks my 21st day into my Lenten journey.)

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