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Blurred Boundaries

How important it is to know the difference between decisions that belong to us and those that belong to others.

Many of the stresses and tensions in relationships could be eased by considering this principle.

As a parent it took me an embarrassingly long time to learn where I ended and my growing up children began. I needed to learn the importance of space to make decisions that were not the ones I would have made. Not understanding that they were distinct human beings in their own right, with responsibility for their own actions, made it hard for me to separate my identity from theirs. Funny how I got that all confused.

Isn't this the root of judging others? This mistaken idea that we have governance over their choices? Each of us must answer to God for the choices we make and I think that is a far more effective governing thought. We experience the sometimes painful results of our choices and this is called experience. It would be wonderful if we could learn from the experience of others, but often we learn best by practice and failure and each of us is on a personal journey of trial and error.

It is sad to learn after the fact that we have "misjudged" an other's motives or actions. How much better to be careful not to judge in the first place, but to focus instead on developing Christ's character in ourselves. That is a lifetime's work and, should we by some miracle achieve it sooner, I think we would find ourselves filled with--not judgment--but compassion and overwhelming love.

Colossians 3:12-13 (New International Version)

12 Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

This doesn't mean that we shouldn't talk to someone about how their actions affect us. That matters, but is different to judging or attempting to control their choices. It is also different when we're in an authority or mentorship relationship with someone; then we have a responsibility to work with that person for their good and that of others. But again that is different to judgment and control.

In the quiet I have been pondering these things.

1 Timothy 1:5-7 (New International Version)
5The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. 6Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk. 7They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.


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