Over the last several months I have learned about something that I have missed my whole Christian life. I know that the more I grow, read and understand about God’s word the more I realize how deep it is – how much it covers in life and how much it speaks to living a healthy well-balanced life.
It is obvious that we should read the Bible and pray. Put God first and all else will fall into place. As it says in Matthew: 6:33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need” (NLT). Of course that is always easier to say than to do. It takes dedication, discipline and a lot of help.
I know God has proven that formula over and over, situation after situation. It’s a proven recipe for a successful life. Even though I still struggle with complete and ultimate surrender to God’s provision, will and rules, I know there is so much to learn about the day to day biblical principles needed to make life smoother.
When to say when
One of the things that I have had difficulty with is knowing when to say when.
My personality is that I want to expect the best of everyone, give them the benefit of the doubt and one more chance. In business it’s a little more simple to explain.
Expecting the client will come through, credit is extended to an account that is past due.
Leaving an advertiser in the newspaper just one more month, I expect they will keep their promise to get caught up.
Extending trust to an employee who promises to be on time for work, I let it slide just one more time. Just one more chance. No really, just one more chance. I don’t know why, but I believe that things will change and get better.
Balancing grace and accountability
I think I confused grace or hope with setting healthy boundaries. I allowed or enabled situations in my life that extended beyond grace or a healthy hope into something that was unhealthy for me or for my family both physically and spiritually.
Pause for a moment and think about a situation in your life right now that might fit that criteria.
Perhaps you are extending chance after chance to a child who refuses to remember his chores or having a hard time saying no to a daughter who just must have that new (fill in the blank.) Or maybe you have a servant’s heart that just doesn’t know how to say “no” when a need is expressed despite being over extended and neglecting commitments at home.
A God of balance
It won’t bring the promises God has for you when the situation is not in alignment with His word. God is a God of balance.
Many are familiar with the passage in Exodus 34 when the Lord came down in a cloud and passed in front of Moses. He said I am “the Lord. The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness. I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations. I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.”
But then he brought balance saying, “But I do not excuse the guilty” (Exodus 34:5-7 NLT).
God is both perfectly loving and perfectly just at the same time. He holds us accountable and uses the trials in our lives to bring about change.
Draw the line in advance
While God is patient with us, at some point he brings things to account and the consequences of our actions must be felt. Setting healthy boundaries in advance helps. In a practical sense, that means you establish in advance when the chances end and accountability begins. I have learned if you establish clear boundaries for yourself, situations will have a lot less chance of getting to an unhealthy place. Simply draw a line that you will not cross. This applies to your time, spending, business and relationships. It can also be a line that you will not allow others to cross into your life – establishing when to say “no.”
I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things for I have much more to learn about putting this into practice. But as Paul said in Phillipians 3:12 “I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.”
Grif Blackstone is the publisher of Good News, the largest Christian newspaper in Florida and president of Blackstone Media Group, a full service web design and marketing company. Grif has helped hundreds of businesses build an effective brand identity to help them communicate who they are to their target market.Email [email protected] or