Sometimes I think people get the wrong idea that if they are living under grace then that means they need to let others mistreat them or even abuse them. Let me be clear; Jesus, the very person of grace, does not want you to be mistreated or abused. In fact, Matthew, Mark, Luke & John clearly prove that Jesus stood up for those who were being taken advantage of! He was and forever will be a defender of the underdog.
Now, just to clarify, this blog post is not about us being persecuted for our faith or for preaching the gospel. The disciples were persecuted, the Apostle Paul was persecuted and many Christians around the world today are persecuted for the sake of the gospel. Let’s pray for those who are being persecuted.
In this post, though, I’m simply referring to your everyday relationships and interactions with others.
If needed, it’s perfectly ok to set boundaries for those you are in relationship with in regards to how you expect to be treated. If grace proves anything it’s that you are valuable.
Here are some keys to setting healthy boundaries in relationships!
1.) If you know you need to have a conversation with someone, be led by the Holy Spirit (let peace be your umpire) as to the right timing for this. When you are in a place where you are able to see the other person as they truly are in Christ and are not judging or defining them by their behavior, that’s usually the right time. This does not mean it’s wrong to discuss their behavior. In fact, if it’s affecting you personally in a negative way, it may be a necessary part of the conversation. But keeping in mind that this fellow Believer in Jesus really is a new person in Christ and only one of the following two things are causing them to behave the way they do will help you tremendously:
- Either they do not know they have become a new creation so they are trying in their own efforts to be someone they already are in Christ
- Or they do know who they are in Christ but have simply forgotten, just like we all do sometimes
2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us of this truth about those who have received Jesus as their personal Lord and Savior:
Therefore if any person is [ingrafted] in Christ (the Messiah) he is a new creation (a new creature altogether); the old [previous moral and spiritual condition] has passed away. Behold, the fresh and new has come! (AMPC)
2.) Don’t go into the conversation with the intention of trying to force the other person to change, but simply to share your thoughts about how you’re feeling. Whether they change or not, which will come as they see their own true identity in Christ in that particular area of struggle, is a change only the Holy Spirit can bring in them as they are willing to be honest with themselves and look to Jesus.
Again, if the person you are having a conversation with is a Christian, then according to 1 Corinthians 2:16 they have the Mind of Christ and do hold His thoughts, feelings and the purposes of His heart. It may not look like they have the Mind of Christ based on their behavior because right now they may be experiencing a temporary identity crisis and forgetting who they truly are but it is what’s true about them!
Look at this:
1 Corinthians 2:16 (AMPC) says,
For who has known or understood the mind (the counsels and purposes) of the Lord so as to guide and instruct Him and give Him knowledge? But we have the mind of Christ (the Messiah) and do hold the thoughts (feelings and purposes) of His heart.
Wow! Just wow! What if we believed this about every one of our brothers and sisters in Christ!
3.) Talk to the other person in a 100% respectful manner, even if they are not reciprocating this. Stay confident in Christ anyway. Remember, you respect others because that’s who you are in Christ. Love breaks down walls.
4.) Do not take the responsibility for the other person’s reaction upon yourself. Sometimes people will try to make you pay for setting boundaries by making you feel ashamed for doing so. Whether they like your boundaries or not is not your responsibility. If you know that you have been led by the Spirit to have a discussion with someone then you don’t need to back down and wonder if you did the wrong thing as a result of the other person’s reaction.
It’s difficult for a person who is experiencing insecurity in an area to face truth about themselves. Keeping this in mind will actually help you separate them as a person from their negative reaction and you’ll be surprised at how God will give you compassion for them and give you a desire to continue praying for them!
Before heading into a boundary setting conversation, if you feel like any of what I suggested above is going to be too hard for you and you are feeling angry about the other persons behavior or being tempted to take matters into your own hands and fix the situation in your own self effort, I encourage you to go to the throne of God’s grace and let Jesus remind you of who you are in Him first; receive The Father’s love for you first. This will drive the fear from your heart and give you the ability to have a healthy, loving conversation. Here’s three verses that will encourage you!
“So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.”
Hebrews 4:16 (NLT)
There is no fear in love [dread does not exist], but full-grown (complete, perfect) love turns fear out of doors and expels every trace of terror! For fear brings with it the thought of punishment, and [so] he who is afraid has not reached the full maturity of love [is not yet grown into love’s complete perfection].
1 John 4:18 (AMPC)
Philippians 2:13 says,
[Not in your own strength] for it is God Who is all the while effectually at work in you [energizing and creating in you the power and desire], both to will and to work for His good pleasure and satisfaction and delight.(AMPC)
You are valuable and you deserve to be treated with respect & kindness!
If you have not yet made Jesus your Savior and received the wonderful joy that His finished work on the cross has provided for you to live in, please visit my page here titled Jesus In The Driver’s Seat. On this page I explain the good news of the gospel and you will have the opportunity to pray a prayer of salvation, making Jesus your Savior! Jesus loves you and His arms are wide open!