Monday, June 17, 2013


Today begins our 24th week reading the Bible through together in a year.  Our scriptures this week are:

  • Proverbs 16-18; Romans 15
  • Proverbs 19-21; Romans 16; Ps 40
  • Proverbs 22-23; 1 Thess 1; Ps 117
  • Proverbs 24-25; 1 Thess 2; Ps 41
  • Proverbs 26-28; 1 Thess 3
Today, I want to focus briefly on only one verse:

Proverbs 17.19 
One who loves transgression loves strife;
    one who builds a high threshold invites broken bones.

This proverb is about boundaries.  Click here for information on the book, Boundaries, by Cloud and Townsend.  Every healthy relationship needs boundaries.  Respecting a person means respecting the boundaries that they have in life.  These boundaries can be physical, mental, or emotional.  Each of us has boundaries that we have set up, that we don't want others to cross.  God's Word speaks to us today about the importance of balance, in the boundaries we have.

This proverb mentions two different kinds of people--the sort who loves transgression (illegally crossing boundaries), and the one who builds a high threshold (abnormally strict boundaries).  Either extreme has its problems, but wise people seek a middle way.  

All of us have known people who violate boundaries.  They don't respect your time or your space.  Or, they press their will on you in such a way that you can't refuse.  These violations, these transgressions, produce strife.  People who frequently violate boundaries do so because they love strife.  They get their energy from being feared, or from being able to intimidate people in one way or another.  

On the other hand, we all know people who build high thresholds.  A threshold is that little piece of wood that goes across the bottom of a doorway.  In older times, straw (or, thresh) was used in dirt-floor homes, to keep the dirt from getting kicked up and to keep the foors and your feet from getting muddy.  A threshold was used to hold the thresh inside the building, and keep it from getting kicked out the door when people exited the house.  Someone with a high threshold may be maintaining good boundaries in that they're not going to lose their hay--but they're likely to trip over the threshold itself.  People with high thresholds have set all kinds of rules for themselves and for others--and yet their overemphasis on rules often causes people to stumble, and maybe even get broken a bit.  Jesus warned us against becoming a stumbling block to people.  Bones aren't the only things that can be broken--hearts and minds and relationships can be shattered as well.

So there must be a balance between freedom from restriction on the one hand, and limitless violation of boundaries on the other.  There must be balance between healthy rules and unhealthy strictures.  Extremes in either direction can cause pain.

Ask God to show you what boundaries you need in your life--and where you may have been throwing up barriers to keep people away.  Ask God to show you where you may have been overstepping other people's boundaries, and where you need to feel more free to follow as the Spirit leads.

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