Yes or No?

Genesis 2:15-17: “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

I’m reading a book, Setting Boundaries with Difficult People. This is a great book, whether you have difficulty with discipline as a parent, a teacher, a coach, a spouse,a boss or an employee. I am quickly realizing that it is not the difficult people in our lives that are the problem; it’s that we don’t have healthy boundaries, and people know how to push the right buttons. According to this book by Allison Bottke, we tend to feel boundaries are a sign of rejection, are selfish, sinful, disrespectful, and dishonoring, when in reality they are healthy, necessary, biblical, respectful, and loving.

In Genesis 2:15-17 God gave boundaries to Adam and Eve in a perfect, loving paradise. There wasn’t sin yet in the world, and yet God saw fit to draw a line that should not be crossed.  It was not the line that was evil, or the intent of the Maker of that line that was evil, but was rather a sign of love and security.  It was also a gift of free will.  God made everything acceptable to Adam and Eve but that one thing, and even perfect people could not resist taking it.  Did God change His mind and say, “Well, OK – now you know I am serious.  That’s one mistake; if you do it again, there will be consequences!”  No, they clearly knew what the line was, they crossed it, and sin led to spiritual death.  While God had mercy on them and made the promise of redemption, He meant what He said and the consequences were real.  He still loved them and could comfort them and accompany them in their trials, but they still had to face the curses that followed.

In Matthew 5:37 and James 5:12, we are to mean what we say when we say yes or no. Otherwise it can lead to condemnation or evil doing. Being wishy washy without clear boundaries is not wise, so we each need to figure out what our own boundaries are, set them, and enforce them.  When children know where the line is drawn, they often will test the boundaries.  When it is clear what the consequences are and those consequences are enforced, they will learn self discipline in order to avoid those negative consequences and condemnation, and it will keep them from more evil doing.  

The same applies to relationships.  People will often take advantage of you if you do not set clear boundaries of what is acceptable vs. inappropriate.  This will lead you to fall into condemnation and perhaps poor health emotionally, spiritually, and/or physically. It can also bring negative consequences to you when you are not a man or woman of your word, and people will not trust or respect you.

How are you doing?  When you say “yes” do you mean it, and when you say “no” do people respect it?  If not, improve on your enforcement of the consequences you set forth.  It’s not selfish but rather an act of love, as it teaches them respect and self discipline, and will relieve stress, anxiety and anguish for you.

Matthew 5:37: “But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”

James 5:12: “But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.”

Dawn Foss

Dawn Foss

Dawn Foss is a family nurse practitioner, author and musician, and mother of two adult daughters. She serves at Meriden Hills Baptist as the church pianist and Sunday School teacher, and teaches music at MidState Christian Academy.
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