One of the most common sights in today’s modern world are the fast food restaurant. They’re just about everywhere, and practically everybody’s eaten fast food in some form or another. It’s not even that fast food is a new thing – historical records show that there were forms of fast food in Ancient Rome, and likely also in earlier cultures.
While there are some concerns about how healthy fast food is, it fits exactly in today’s hectic lifestyle. People don’t really have the time to prepare fresh food on their own, and sometimes don’t even have the time to have a long meal. Rush in, pick your food, pay for your food, rush out. Back to work, or school, or ministry.
Often we don’t even think about whether we order something healthy, sometimes we don’t even eat it for the flavor. Sometimes we just have to eat, and fast, so that we can get on with our day. Many nutritionists say this causes a wide range of health problems today, with quite a bit of evidence to back up their claims. But this is a large, complex issue in itself, and its not what I want to talk about here today.
What I did want to talk about is how relationships in today’s society is a lot like going to a fast food restaurant. We go in, we pick our relationships, and often we don’t take the time to really think about how these relationships can affect us. And just like the fast food we eat, this can prove to have disastrous results.
Relationships Without Boundaries
What is a boundary? The fact that I have to ask that question and answer it, is in itself a scary thought. Coming from a dictionary definition, a boundary is a line that marks the limits of an area. Or it can mean the limit of a subject or sphere of activity.
A relationship boundary is the set of limits, rules or guidelines that a person has that lets them decide what are acceptable, reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave around them. They’re built up from a variety of sources, but basically its the invisible line that tells you whether someone has done you wrong, or if they’re doing right.
Someone with healthy personal boundaries knows when someone in their life is harmful to them or not. They know when to say no to people, just as they know when to say yes. They build healthy relationships with others, and encourage others to have healthy relationships around them as well.
However, if we don’t take the time to realize these personal boundaries, to examine ourselves and our relationships with other people, we could be leading ourselves to endless bad relationships. We could end up emotionally drained and exhausted, frustrated with our friends, family, co-workers, peers… the list is endless.
Even worse, a person who does not have a healthy relationship boundary could be leading others to negative relationships as well. Have you ever thought about whether you could be the source of frustration and emotional exhaustion?
Take the time to think about this; I would in fact suggest that you pray to God about it. Spend time in prayer asking the Lord about what is healthy, what is not, and what you can do to correct it. Dive into the Bible to help build your relationship boundaries. You can also observe people who you think has good relationships. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong?
One of the concerns Christians have with relationships is having non-Christian friends. One verse to look at is 2 Cor 6:14. “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?” Often, Christians use this to justify not having any friends who aren’t Christian, but at the same time, how can we minister to people if we don’t have relationships with them? There has to be something more than just “stay away from unbelievers.”
Without going too deeply into it, I believe that the key here is the phrase “do not be yoked.” A yoke is basically a wooden crosspiece used to tie two animals together so that they can pull something together. This suggests going in the same direction, being led the same place. So if a relationship is leading you to a place that is wrong for you, wrong for your beliefs as a Christian, then that relationship has you yoked to the wrong person.
Relationships of any kind can be tricky, and you will want God’s wisdom when dealing with a person you feel is leading you in the wrong direction. But bad relationships have to be dealt with, whether by correcting the relationship or ending it, depending on the situation. Else bad consequences can be the result, not only for you but for the other person as well.
There’s really a lot more that can be said about the subject, but for now know that there is such a thing as good personal relationship boundaries. Also know that God realizes that these are important for you, and that He is willing to help you find and repair your boundaries as well. Remember that the God of peace will make you complete in every good work to do His will – even in the area of your relationships.