Rebecca St. James—Drawing the Lines

RSJ img_8965Since Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the snake for their decision to eat from the forbidden tree (see Genesis 3:12–13), accepting responsibility and taking control of our own life has not come easily. We explain away our behavior with all kinds of excuses, and then we wonder why things get out of control. We have not set limits to guide us. We are a culture without boundaries.


  • Emotional boundaries show us how to handle our emotions. They keep in check how much we allow ourselves to be affected by others. Without them, we either ignore our emotions or allow them to control our responses. And we fail to keep a healthy distance from the uncontrolled, unreliable emotions of others. Seek to understand what triggers your emotional reactions, and learn how to deal with those situations in a healthy way.
  • Physical boundaries help us take care of our body. Without them, we neglect the things that are good for us and allow harmful habits to form instead. Start by setting specific goals for taking care of your body. Get a friend on board to keep you accountable.
  • Spiritual boundaries start when we decide to follow Christ and continue as we grow in our faith and seek to please God with our decisions. Without them, we won’t be able to recognize lies, and we won’t have non-negotiable truths to build our life on. Read the Bible and pray every day—God wants to tell you what’s on his heart and for you to tell him what’s on yours.
  • Relational boundaries set guidelines for what we will and will not accept from others. They help us develop healthy, lasting relationships. Without them, dangerous people can hurt or take advantage of us. Develop an inner circle of healthy relationships—friends who love you and love God and help you grow. And learn the difference between being a servant and being stepped on.
  • Financial boundaries set lifetime standards for how you will and will not spend money. Without them, your money will be gone—and so will your peace—before you spend it on things that truly matter. Decide what’s important to you, and pay the important stuff first.
  • Organizational boundaries bring order to chaos. Without them, clutter results—too many commitments, a frantic mind, and unclear goals. Know when to give away, put away, throw away. Know when to say no. Know when to be still before God.



It’s time to draw the lines. You are in charge of your own choices, but God gives you empowerment through boundaries. Boundaries don’t confine you—they free you up. Boundaries give you self–control. They bring you peace, security, and balance. They create consistency for your decisions, and give you confidence to move forward. Boundaries please God.



Tackle one of the boundaries with which you are struggling. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Emotional: Write in your journal to process some of the up-and-down emotions you’ve faced this week.
  • Physical: Go to the gym.
  • Spiritual: Read a chapter of Proverbs and talk about it with a friend.
  • Relational: Call a friend with whom you have an unhealthy relationship and talk about one thing you can change in your friendship.
  • Financial: Make a plan for spending next month’s money.
  • Organizational: Clean your room.

—from Devo’Zine (July/August 2006). Copyright © 2006 by Upper Room Ministries. All rights reserved. Article adapted from SHE Teen. Copyright © 2005 by Rebecca St. James and Lynda Hunter Bjorklund. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.

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