Boundaries are Biblical
Are boundaries Biblical? Yes. I believe they are.
The Bible records Jesus’ life on earth as a time of endless ministry with miracles and teaching. Yet, it also records that on occasion, he went away by himself to pray. He had to refresh his inner well by communing with the Father. He was bringing physical and spiritual healing to the needy, yet he stopped to rest and pray. Alone. From the Father through prayer, he received all he needed and more to keep doing ministry.
Some people have so much of their core identity wrapped up in doing that they cannot stop to be alone and pray or rest for fear of wasting time. But we are certainly not stronger than the son of God, and he took time away to pray.
Seeking alone time with God or with ourselves is a boundary. We draw a line around that time to say, “This time is for me.” We do not allow others in that place because we are digging deeper wells within our sacred space, wells that will overflow in blessing to others because we have cultivated them in alone time.
Right after Jesus went away to pray, Peter comes to him to tell him that “Everyone is looking for you,” presumably because he had done so much healing among the people. But Jesus’ response (Mark 1:38) shows his priorities: “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” He says “no” to Capernaum because he must also go to Galilee. Furthermore, he did not come just to give people physical healing, but he came to preach. Preaching takes priority; healing is to attest to his message.
Boundaries also protect those closest to us.
In choosing 12 disciples, Jesus laid a boundary. While he was surrounded by crowds all day, he took the 12 and set them apart as his special companions. To these he gave special wisdom and teaching not available to the crowds. Mark 6:31 says, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” In addition to an inner circle of friends, Jesus also had a select group to bring the gospel to–the Israelites. He distinguished between all the people groups and this select group–to fulfill the prophecies and complete the divine plan.
When a Syrophonecian woman seeks Jesus for help, he says to her “It is not right to take the children’s food and feed it to the dogs.” He uses a metaphor to demonstrate that he must feed the children first. If he is constantly side-tracked from his goal of bringing the gospel to Israel, he would not fulfill the prophecies and complete God’s plan. The “children” are the lost sheep of Israel. The woman answers, “But Lord, even the dogs get the crumbs that fall from the table.” Her faith in this answer delights him and he grants her request. She is acknowledging that his first priority is to the Israelites, but in faith she believes she only needs the leftovers to find full healing. Just a crumb from you, Lord, would be all that I need. The healthiest boundaries have gates on them, gates that can be opened occasionally when we feel the Spirit nudging us to do so. Jesus had boundaries, but he opened a gate to this believing woman.
My boundaries need to have gates ready to open on occasion. The majority of my time should be in line with my priorities. But occasionally, a circumstance might arrive in which I would feel led to put a student’s needs before my children, possibly in a crisis or an unusual time of need. However, if this happens repeatedly, on a daily basis, I might have a problem saying “no” to those who are asking me for help. I need to consider my priorities and make my decisions accordingly. Living with a lack of boundaries can look like constantly responding to the needs of others in such a way that you are not reliably available to yourself or those you hold most dear.
I believe we see in the life of Christ the use of boundaries to protect his purposes.
I believe that when we make Christ a priority in our own lives and protect that priority, we begin to see ripple effects throughout all other areas of our lives. This brings God glory, which is our most sacred purpose.