Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Job on boundaries: Job 31:1

"I have made a covenant with my eyes; how then could I gaze at a virgin?" (Job 31:1)
Boundaries are the limits we impose on ourselves to keep us from wandering too far from home. They set the limit of our behavior and conduct, especially as it relates to others. Boundaries act as a safe guard, protecting what's inside.

In an effort to protect his marriage, Job established a boundary, "I have made a covenant with my eyes." Job set a boundary for his behavior that, when he saw an attractive woman, he would turn his eyes and not "gaze" on her. Job's gaze belonged to his wife and not to another. He would not allow himself the pleasure of gazing upon other women. This self inflicted boundary kept his heart pure before his wife and before his God.

A boundary is not legalism, rather it is a form of self control, which is one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Boundaries are a way we discipline ourselves, a way we say no to our flesh. Boundaries protect us from sin. Consider King David when he saw Bathsheba bathing on her roof top. The scripture says that, "Now when evening came David arose from his bed and walked around on the roof of the king's house, and from the roof he saw a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful in appearance." (2 Samuel 11:2) How different the outcome of that moment might have been if David turned his eyes and refused to gaze upon her. But instead, he gazed upon her and he sent to inquire about her and took her as if she was his wife.

I have talked with several Christians who failed morally in relationships with the opposite sex. One thing I have found that they had in common was that most of them had no sense of boundaries. I would ask them, "How far is too far? Holding hands? Kissing? Making out? Being alone together?" In most cases, they could not tell me what their boarders were. When we have no boundaries, we are easy prey to temptation. The time to decide what to do with temptation is before it comes, not when we are caught up in the heat of the moment. When we set boundaries, we decide what we are going to do when temptation comes, before it comes!

Boundaries can cover almost every area of our lives. And one person's boundaries may be different from another's. But what is important is that we decide for ourselves, and before God, what the limits of our behavior will be. For example, here are two simple boundaries I have for myself in relating to the opposite sex:
  1. Never have a friendship with a woman that is not a friend of my wife.
  2. Never have a friendship with a woman that is greater than the friendship I have with her husband.
While these boundaries may not be universally accepted by others, they have proven to offer safety and security in my relationship with my wife and in my walk with my God. Boundaries may at first seem restrictive, but what I have found, and what I think Job understood, is that boundaries are actually freeing. With boundaries, we are no longer place in a position of having to make difficult choices when the temptation of the moment is its greatest. With boundaries, we have already made those decisions and, when tempted, we need only be true to the boundaries we have already set.

David Robison

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