Really? Boundaries?

by Terri Gillespie

Now this I pray, that your love might overflow still more and more in knowledge and depth of discernment, in order to approve what is excellent—so that in the Day of Messiah you may be sincere and blameless . . . Philippians 1:9-10, TLV

If you hear the sound of knocking and you can’t identify its source, then it’s probably me, banging my head against the wall. Because it happened again.

I meant well. She needed help and no one else seemed to want to help. Little did I know, there was a reason for that.

So, I jumped in and helped. Then I helped again. And again. And again. The more I helped, the more the need seemed to flourish. Was I actually feeding the need?

Wait. Was I being taken advantage of?

As I sat at my mentor’s kitchen table, head in my hands, that revelation was confirmed. Why hadn’t anyone warned me? Perhaps, she said, because I did not ask.

I write a lot of blogs on the importance of love. As children of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves. I refer to this passage a lot. This is a balanced and wise approach to love.

For the past few months, I have focused on the importance of love. How we are to respond in love when others behave badly, especially these days where division and chaos have separated family and friends and communities—and well, let’s face it—our nation.

But I have also discussed boundaries. If the apostle Paul were here today, he might use the term boundary to the Philippians. Qualifying only the love that came with the understanding of thousands of years’ worth of understanding and living wisdom.

When we employ the tools of wisdom, which include discernment and knowledge to our expressions of love, we do not accept sin. We understand that we must forgive, as our Father forgives us.

Our pursuit of reconciliation may mean pulling away from someone because continued contact is harmful to us or our loved ones — maybe even to them.

“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has demanded to sift you all like wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith will not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” Luke 22: 31-32 TLV

Sometimes God must sift a soul. As difficult as it is to watch, we must allow them to experience the full weight of their sinful heart for them to be set free. Interfering with God’s process with an uninformed expression of love, is not only detrimental to that person’s process, but also prideful. You know what it is like? It is like saying, “Okay God, I’ll take care of this situation now. Clearly You don’t know what You’re doing.”

Like Peter’s betrayal and Paul’s persecution of the believers, we may need to love from afar via forgiveness and prayer. Love with knowledge and discernment so that we aren’t guilty of interfering with God’s purpose for that soul. And should the day arrive that reconciliation is possible, we will be ready to offer the love that ministers healing.

If you find you have been knocking your head against a wall in frustration over helping others, seek the Lord. Perhaps a little wisdom needs to be applied with that love.

This article is brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

About the author: Award-winning author and beloved speaker Terri Gillespie writes stories of faith and redemption to nurture souls. Her novels, devotionals, and blogs have drawn readers to hunger for a deeper relationship with their Heavenly Father, and His Son Jesus. Her newest novel, Sweet Rivalry, releases later this year. 

Join the conversation: Do you struggle to set boundaries in relationships?