It does not take a rocket scientist to know that “love” Jesus’ way is completely counter-cultural and requires an other-worldly approach to thinking. But we still live in this world. Jesus asked, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). I have learned that to love someone completely, means to love within biblical boundaries. Here are a few suggestions to help you determine what a healthy boundary looks like when you work with people in the upcoming year.
In their book, Boundaries, Doctor’s Henry Cloud and John Townsend use the words “hurt” and “harm” as definable boundaries to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy boundaries. It is true that Jesus calls us to love, give, and even do so sacrificially. If we took the words of Jesus, “Give to everyone who asks of you,” and literally applied them to every situation that presented itself to us, we would not have enough to care for ourselves and our families. Then we would be guilty of behaving like unbelievers (1 Timothy 5:8).
Over the years, I have found the value of protecting and living with healthy boundaries that empower me to love others. A healthy boundary allows our hearts to be “hurt” by the needs of others, but not “harmed” by them. When we allow “hurts” to cloud sound judgment and react beyond our ability to be responsible, it “harms” us and becomes unhealthy. A healthy love allows itself to be “hurt” by the needs in the world, but it should never allow them to cause “harm” except in times of extreme need and circumstance.
“Learning to love ourselves and others,”
Pastor of Spiritual Formation