3 Boundaries You Can Set to Pursue a Healthier, Holier Life | Boundaries

In the last post for this series, we established that a life in Christ is one of boundaries. Pursuing God’s design for our lives means living within the limits He has set for us. We studied how our Heavenly Father reacts when we leave the boundaries and how He reacts when we don’t live abundantly in the freedom that can be found within the boundaries He has set. 

In this post, we’re going to explore what it means and what it takes to pursue a holy life.

What It Means: Suffering 

First of all, we need to understand: the Christian life is a life of accepting suffering. Jesus warned his disciples in John 16:33 that they would face trouble for following Him. And then, we see Him accept painful death on a cross when He’s in the Garden of Gethsemane before He’s arrested and prays to the Father, “if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

The Christian life is a life of accepting suffering.

To be a disciple of a teacher who had been crucified was seen as shameful by the culture in which the Early Church existed. And yet, the Apostles boasted about being servants of the crucified and risen Christ. And they all faced persecution for it.

That’s where we find the Apostle Paul in his second letter to Timothy: in a Roman prison for preaching the gospel. We know from history that Paul was beheaded shortly after he sent this letter.

And what we see in this letter is his acceptance of it. Despite being in prison, being tortured, and facing death, he’s filled with joy and peace. He’s even encouraging Timothy to contend for the faith even though it means suffering. 

I thank God, whom I serve, with a clear conscience…Do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord or of me His prisoner. Rather, join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God.” – 2 Timothy 1: 3,8

Paul trusted God as the Lord over every circumstance of his life.

If he was in prison for obeying the Father, God clearly ordained it. He believed that for whatever reason God had for not protecting his servant from prison had to be for God’s glory—and that made his suffering worth it.

What It Takes: Boundaries

How can we follow Paul’s example and experience joy and peace in the midst of suffering? Here are three boundaries we can set for ourselves:

  1. Trade our will power for God’s power. In his letter to Timothy, Paul credits The Holy Spirit for giving Him the strength to keep his faith saying, ‘For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.’” (2 Timothy 1:7)

God requires a faithfulness of us that is well-beyond our ability. We were made for a holy life, but when we try to pursue it on our own we will only achieve failure. But He has given us His Spirit, so that we will have the power, love and self-discipline to not only carry out the mission of making disciples, but also to endure the suffering that comes with choosing to be His disciples.

God requires a faithfulness of us that is well-beyond our ability.

2. Decide that nothing will keep you from the love of God. “[Preaching the gospel] is why I am suffering as I am. Yet this is no cause for shame, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)

Paul trusted in the teachings and promises made to us by Christ. He knew that at the heart of the gospel story was a God who loved us so much, He conquered sin and death so that we could be reconciled to a life with Him. God gave up His Son and in exchange, all He asks for is our hearts. And He protects and cherishes what is His.

3. Guard your treasure in a way that brings glory to Jesus. In verse 14, Paul encourages Timothy to “guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you.” He’s referring to the holiness and mission we receive when we pursue a life in Christ. A life of making disciples is not easy, but the freedom and joy of the gospel makes it worth it.

This post is inspired by message two of Mt. Bethel’s “Boundaries” Sermon Series entitled “Boundaries for Self” by Pastor John Freeland. You can view the full message, as well as other sermons from this series, here.