God’s Guidelines for Thriving Relationships

By Chip Ingram

Imagine you’re driving down the road when suddenly, the car next to you swerves into your lane, forcing you to jerk your car off the side of the road. Immediately, your heart begins to race and you are flooded with a range of emotions… fear, danger, and then outright anger!

Now, imagine that your parent, child, boss, or a close friend asks you to do something that you really don’t want to do because in your heart you know it’s wrong. They keep pushing you until you felt guilty enough to give in to their request. Afterward, you feel resentful and angry.

Do any of these scenarios sound familiar to you?

If you relate to any or both of these situations, you might recall that in them you were experiencing feelings of mild irritation, discomfort, or even fear.  These emotions are all markers that either a relational or physical boundary was being violated.

Boundaries are often created by the word, “no.” “No, you can’t drive on my side of the road,” or, “No, I don’t want to do something that’s not right for me.” Quite simply, a boundary is where one person begins and another ends.

Having boundaries is essential to having healthy, growing relationships, and to live a life in a way that honors God.

Even God has boundaries! One of the most important times God outlines His boundaries is in the Old Testament.  In Exodus 20, God restores His relationship with the Israelites by giving them the Ten Commandments – or the “10 words of life.”

The 10 words didn’t come from a person or staunch leader, but from a loving, personal God who delivered His people out of slavery. Notice that God first tells His people who He is.  He says to Moses, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” More than anything, God wanted the Israelites to experience an abundant life. He did this by giving them His boundaries to help them understand who He is, how they were to respond to Him, and how they needed to respond to one another.

So, what does this mean for us today? God’s desire for His people back then is the same for us today: that we would have the best and most abundant life.

In a world where there is no absolute truth, where no one can agree on what is right and what is wrong and where the outrageous has become the ordinary, we are all in desperate need to get clear on God’s boundaries and His purpose for them.

His commandments are not given with the intention of binding us into a straightjacket of rules that condemn or control us. Instead, they help us grow into the deepest relationship possible with Him and with others. His words also offer us protection from the discomfort, sorrow and pain that usually accompany the consequences of violated boundaries.

These consequences are felt the most when we “miss the mark,” or sin. The Apostle Paul says in Romans 6 “the wages of sin is death,” which is separation from God.  Since God knows that none of us can keep all of his laws perfectly, He sent His son, Jesus, to restore our relationship with Him. God’s 10 words are not rules on how to be righteous, but rather they are words of life, grace and encouragement.  Remember, God is not satisfied with us merely following his boundaries for life – He wants our hearts first and foremost.

This week, we will be starting a new series, God’s Boundaries for Abundant Living. In it, we will take a fresh look at the Ten Commandments. It is my prayer that through this series, you’ll gain renewed perspective on God’s boundaries in ways that help you experience your highest, best and most abundant living.

Keep Pressin’ Ahead,

Chip Ingram
Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge


Written By

Chip Ingram

Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge

Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.

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