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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Boundaries - More Than Fences

22-24Don't fool yourself into thinking that you are a listener when you are anything but, letting the Word go in one ear and out the other. Act on what you hear! Those who hear and don't act are like those who glance in the mirror, walk away, and two minutes later have no idea who they are, what they look like. 25But whoever catches a glimpse of the revealed counsel of God—the free life!—even out of the corner of his eye, and sticks with it, is no distracted scatterbrain but a man or woman of action. That person will find delight and affirmation in the action.
(James 1:22-25)

The Word of God presents a wide variety of "boundaries" that we are to put into action in our lives.  Those boundaries actually serve to give us a sense of safety - we stay within them and we are safe - we step outside of them and no telling what will happen.  Yesterday, we began to look at the book we write by the speech we employ.  We looked at how those "words" actually begin in our thought life - therefore, if our thoughts are not really all that "right" or "good" in the first place, the words that are displayed will reflect the thoughts we have entertained.

The first way we get control of our spoken words is to begin to take in God's Word.  It is by the intake of his Word that we are able to begin to get control over the outflow of words from our minds.  When we begin to consider our spoken words in light of what the scripture says, we may find that we have engaged in wrong thought patterns and therefore, the actions behind those thoughts are being displayed.  An example of this is when I begin to formulate thoughts that someone is just being selfish in their demands of my time.  When I entertain this thought over and over again, I begin to resent every action I take to fulfill that person's desires.  My speech may be a good warning sign of what is actually going on in my mind - those subtle jabs and snippy answers tell me a lot about what I am really thinking!

Thought has power - it is that which is the "igniting" source for what it is that we say and do.  Thoughts can be creative, or entirely destructive.  They can be edifying, or spoken in such a way that they almost carry a damning effect to them.  They can be spoken in such a way that they are instructive, or they can be so frivolous that people wonder why you are even speaking the at all!  They also can be challenging, moving us ahead in relationship, or complacent, keeping us in a rut.  

Lest you think that there is no hope for "unbridled" thoughts - those that are really given no real boundaries to stay within - I want to point you toward a couple of truths I have learned.  First, we are all given "filters" by which we can "test" each thought before it ever has a chance to become an action or a spoken word.  Those filters come to us through the action of the Holy Spirit in our lives, the intake of the Word of God, and the development of our conscience.  It only takes ONE tiny seed thought to change the entire course of our actions!  The exact change you so desperately desire in your heart begins with that one tiny seed thought placed there by the intake of the Word, the urging of the Holy Spirit, or the niggling of our conscience.

Did you know that if you rehearse even the smallest "good" thought, it will eventually become the greatest influence over the rest of your thoughts?  It is true.  Begin to entertain just one good thought about something you are struggling with today in a relationship you are engaged in and then keep rehearsing that thought.  Then, look specifically for insight from the Word of God as it relates to that "good thought" and allow it to fertilize that thought.  Eventually, it will grow and begin to become pervasive in your mind.  That one "seed thought" begins to "over-grow" the other less edifying thoughts you might have been entertaining.

There is safety in setting boundaries in our thought life.  When we begin to exercise the authority over what it is that we allow into our minds, we begin to form the right mindsets.  Boundaries have a two-fold purpose:
1)  They keep us in the right mindset!
2)  They keep the wrong thoughts out!
When we begin to set the right boundaries, we begin to reap the benefits of a more controlled mindset and a more fruitful display of God's grace in our lives.