It seems like there should be a verse that reads, “To everyone God has apportioned at least one difficult person.” The truth is that we all have relationships that drive us to distraction, and one key challenge is figuring out how to set Christian boundaries. Should I let him soak up all my time or is it okay to say, ‘no’? Should I rescue her again or let her experience the consequences of her actions? Do I let it go or say the tough things? What do I do?
The good news is that while it is hard to set boundaries, you can learn to do it. Jesus set boundaries, and you can, too.
Love is not always giving people what they want. We see this in Jesus’ life, which is why He often had to set boundaries. He drove sellers out of the temple, rebuked the Pharisees’ hypocrisy, turned potential followers away, and left the disciples to spend alone time with God.
So how do you determine the best way to love that tough person? Try running your decision through the following principles. They will help you love well.
Ten Key Principles in Setting Boundaries
1. Seek God’s will – Listen to God, not others. “Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25
2. Love their soul – Love is not taking the easy way out by being “nice.” Nice is an American concept, love is the biblical goal.
3. Love sincerely – Love is the key ingredient in every relationship. When you love someone, everything you do is for him and nothing you do or say comes from a vengeful or punishing perspective.
4. Have supportive relationships – Surround yourself with godly friends who will encourage and support you in doing the right thing.
5. Take responsibility for your own actions – Rarely is the problem the fault of only one person. If you own your part of the problem, the other person will be more likely to accept your boundaries.
6. Invite them to change – The first step in confronting someone should never be a limit, but always an invitation to change.
7. Warn them – If you just set limits out of the blue, this person may feel ambushed and become angry at you. A warning, on the other hand, gives her a choice.
8. Be patient – A warning, if not accompanied with patience, is an ultimatum.
Patience means providing the ingredients for growth while allowing that person time to respond.
9. Follow through with consequences – Remember that consequences have nothing to do with anger, revenge, or punishment. They are there to protect you and to help this person deal with the reality of her actions.
10. Practice continual forgiveness – Don’t give negative attitudes a chance to grow – practice forgiveness day by day.
We all have difficult people in our lives, yet God calls us to love them well. To do this, make all your decisions based on what will best promote the other person’s spiritual and eternal good. Setting Christian boundaries is the loving thing to do.
Listen to the Audio “Christian Boundaries” & Learn:
As Christians we feel a constant pull to do what other people want, yet in giving in to them we give up something else. Is it ever right to say “no?” Does Christian love have limits? Is it selfish to take care of our own needs? These are questions we have to answer if we ever hope to live and love well.
- Learn how Jesus answers these same tough questions
- Watch His life to learn how to live your own
- Discover the five characteristics of loving boundaries
- Develop godly relationships
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