Monday, October 12, 2009

Benefits of Boundaries

We have been remodeling our kitchen, and last week we replaced the old, rickety guardrail around the stairwell leading to our garage. Of course, it had to be removed first, which left an unprotected hole while the new railing was being erected.

Even as unstable as the old guardrail was, its mere presence offered protection – especially compared to the yawning opening that remained once it had been taken down. There were no mishaps during the brief transition time, but it struck me how important barriers – or boundaries – can be.

This reminded me of a study of elementary school children years ago that showed if there was no fence around the school, during recess the kids would congregate near the building. But once a fence was put up, they felt freedom to roam right up to the fence line. A friend of mine used to raise sheep and these timid animals also appreciated the security of a fenced enclosure.

To me, this is the purpose of God’s precepts, statutes, laws, commands, word and decrees (as they are variously described in Psalm 119). It’s not that He is some divine spoilsport, saying, “You can’t do this; you can’t do that.” Rather, as our Designer, God knows what’s best for us – and cared enough to offer us a manual (the Bible) and give us protective boundaries.

As someone has said, “If sin wasn’t any fun, we wouldn’t want to do it.” But just because it’s fun, that doesn’t mean it’s good for us – or right. Lust, greed, dishonesty and various other vices may appease the psyche, but we’re none the better for any of them. And whenever we participate in them, we damage others in the process.

That’s why, “All Scripture…is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

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