The book, “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and John Townsend is on of my favorite books. This book helps us to know when to say yes and how to say no. I read this book five years ago and recently reread it. We as Christians struggle with boundaries because we are called to love like Christ.
The first part of this book caused us to ask the question, “What are boundaries?” It helps us to know what it looks like, how they are developed, and some common myths. The next part of this book deals with boundaries in application. Here they place the idea into application. This is about boundaries and your family, friends, spouse, children, work, the digital age, yourself, and God. The final part of this book is about developing healthy boundaries. They deal with some resistances to boundaries, how to measure success, and a day in a life with boundaries.
What I liked about this book was the Scripture behind it. They do a lot to make sure that what they are teaching is Biblical. They are able to take the reader out of their current perspective and cause you to see it in a new light. For instance, this book talked about the story of the Good Samaritan in a way they I hadn’t thought of. We all know the story. Even people who don’t believe in Christ know the story. A man was traveling when a group of men beat and rob him. He’s left for dead. People pass him by until a Samaritan sees him, bandages his wounds and brings him to an inn. The next day he tells the innkeeper, “Look after him, and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have” (Luke 10:35). We see this story and think what an amazing person! What I love about this book is it asks the question, “What if the Good Samaritan didn’t have boundaries?”
Image if when he went to leave the injured man turned to him and said, “What? You’re leaving?” “Yes, I am. I have some business in Jericho I have to attend to,” the Samaritan replies.
“Don’t you think you’re being selfish? I’m in pretty bad shape here. I’m going to need someone to talk to. You’re not even acting like a Christian, abandoning me like this in my time of need!”
So the Samaritan stays with the man for three days, talking to him and making sure that he is content. On the afternoon of the third day, he gets a message saying “Waited as long as we could. Have decided to sell camels to another party.”
The Samaritan would probably turn to the injured man and begin blaming him for his business loss. But if he would have done this his camel loss would have been his fault. When we don’t have the right boundaries, we tend to place blame on the wrong person. We need to own up to our decisions and stop blaming others for our choices. Thankfully that is not what happened.
The Good Samaritan did the right thing. Even though he helped the man he had a boundary and didn’t stay with him the entire time. God calls all of us to be generous. With so many needs in this world we must ask God, “Where do you want me to give my time, money, and resources?” This book has helped me because it shows me how to practically love in a world full of needs. Remember sometimes we have to say no to a good thing so that we can say yes to something great!