How Much Is Too Much?
The choices we make on a daily basis—wearing a seat belt, lifting heavy objects correctly or purposely staying out of any dangerous situation—can either ensure our safety or bring about potentially harmful circumstances.
As Christians, we also have choices to make. To keep us in God’s safety zone, the Word of God establishes the necessary boundaries. It tells us what we can do to be safe and what we shouldn’t do if we don’t want to be unsafe.
Where Are Your Boundaries?
You and I need to make a decision that we are going to get our lives in order. Exercising self-control, self-discipline and establishing boundaries and borders in our lives are some of the most important things we can do. A life without discipline is one that’s filled with carelessness.
We can think it’s kind of exciting to live life on the edge. We like the image of “Yeah! That’s me! Living on the edge! Woo-hoo!” It’s become a popular way to look at life. But to be honest, God doesn’t want us living on the edge. If we do, then we have no margin for error.
Staying in the Lines
Highways have lines, which provide margins for our safety while we’re driving. If we go over one side, we’ll go into the ditch. If we cross over the line in the middle, we could get killed. And we like those lines because they help to keep us safe. Sometimes we don’t even realize how lines help to keep us safe.
Similarly, when we begin to have boundaries, borders and margins in our personal lives, we feel much better and experience God’s peace.
Have You Reached Your Limits?
Guidelines for a Better Life
- Establish boundaries
- Notice warning signs
- Make changes
- Set limits for yourself
- Be yourself
- Find balance
- Stay stable in God's Word
Maybe you’re living an unsustainable life. This means that you say things like, “I can’t do this much longer. I just can’t keep this up forever. If I have to live like this one more year, it’s probably going to finish me off. It’s all too much!”
If we’re making comments like these, what we’re really saying is, “I know I have limits and that I’ve reached them, but I’m going to ignore them and see if or how long I can get by with it.”
I’m not proud of this, but for the first 20 years of my ministry, I ignored limits in my own life. I felt horrible physically most of the time. I ran to doctors, trying to make myself feel better through pills, vitamins, natural stuff and anything I could get my hands on. Some of the doctors would tell me, “It’s just stress.” That just made me mad. I thought stress meant you don’t like what you do or can’t handle life, and I love what I do. But I kept pushing myself, traveling, doing speaking engagements and so on— simply exhausting myself.
Stop Putting Off Change
I look back and think if it wasn’t for the mercy of God, I’d be dead. After all those years of thinking the doctors were all wrong, I finally realized that we can’t break God’s spiritual laws or His laws of health and rest and not pay a price. So I made some changes!
The same goes for relationships. People give us warnings to let us know they’re not happy in our relationship with them. But how many people do anything to make their relationships better before it’s too late?
If we discover we are living unsustainable lives, we need to stop putting off making the necessary changes until we have a nervous breakdown, a heart attack or lose everyone in our life.
Be Balanced, not Pressured
In Numbers 11, Moses gives us an example of what we can do when we’re under stress. Talk about pressure—he was leading the Israelites through the wilderness on what should have been an 11-day trip, but took 40 years.
Because of it, the people were depressed and weeping over their situation. In verse 14 Moses tells God, I am not able to carry all these people alone, because the burden is too heavy for me.
Like Moses, it’s okay for us to say, “I’ve reached my limit.” Yes, scripture says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13 NKJV), but that’s really referring to times when we face various trials and situations that God will help us through.
You and I don’t have to be like everyone else or keep up with anyone else. Each of us needs to be who God created us to be, and we don’t have to apologize for it. We’re not all alike and we need to find the comfort zone God has established for us to live in, so we can enjoy our lives instead of making ourselves sick with an overload of stress and pressure.
And remember: Just because God’s Word sets boundaries doesn’t mean that He’s trying to imprison you or hold you back. God is not into controlling us contrary to our will. We can get outside of those boundaries if we want to leave the safety God has established in His Word. Ultimately, He has given us guidelines and commandments to help us have a better life, and every single thing He tells us to do is for our benefit.