Divide this land for an inheritance to the nine tribes and half the tribe of Manasseh.
— Joshua 13:7 (ESV)
NOVEMBER 21, 2020
Boundaries, Not Walls
From the book Healing the Soul of a Woman – by Joyce Meyer
One of the first things God did after the Israelites entered the Promised Land was tell Joshua to divide the land that still remained to be conquered among the tribes of Israel. Joshua 13:8–33 details the boundaries of each tribe, except for the tribe of Levi because God Himself was their inheritance (v. 33).
Throughout the Bible, God told people and nations what their geographic boundaries were. As long as different groups respected the boundaries, they could live peaceably together. But when one group crossed a boundary and infringed on a neighbor’s land, that’s when trouble—and even war—broke out.
Just as groups of people need boundaries, it’s also important for us to have boundaries. Because everyone who wants to come into our lives may not be good for us, we can decide whether to allow them to get close to us or not. This kind of boundary setting can be physical, but it can also be emotional and mental. We get to decide whether or not we will give certain people access to our hearts and minds. We can choose how much we will allow our hearts to love or trust them—if at all. We can also choose how much we will think about them. One of the keys to being a healthy individual is to have appropriate boundaries in relationships.
There is a difference between boundaries and walls, and sometimes when a person is very wounded in their soul, they’ll put up walls instead of setting boundaries. Let me explain the difference. A person who puts up walls says to themselves: “I’ve been hurt before and nobody is ever going to hurt me again! I am not going to allow anyone to get close to me ever again. That way they can’t hurt me.”
A person who sets healthy boundaries says: “I have experienced a lot of hurt in my life, and I need to protect myself and be involved with people who are safe for me. I am going to be wise and discerning as I build relationships. If someone begins to disrespect me or take advantage of me, I will confront his or her behavior. If it continues, I will not continue to allow the person in my life.”
Do you see the difference between building walls and setting boundaries? Building walls leaves no room for healthy relationships because it closes off the possibility of close relationships completely. A person who sets boundaries is open to deep relationships, but only if they are respectful and beneficial. A person with boundaries doesn’t shut out all people or certain categories of people, but remains open to people as long as they are positive, not negative, in her life. Setting boundaries is not easy, but God will help you do it as you heal.
Prayer Starter: Father, please teach me how, where and when to set healthy boundaries with the people in my life. Thank You for helping me take down any unhealthy walls, and for directing me to relationships that will be good for me and others. In Jesus’ name, amen.