Liberty With Limits

December 18, 2012

Liberty With Limits

“He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”  (Proverbs 25:28).

A farmer’s animals are limited by the fence around their pasture.  Sometimes there is a cow who doesn’t want to respect the limits the fence puts on her.  After she breaks through the fence several times her owner will lose patience with her and take her to market.  From there she will go to the slaughter house.

We all need limits.  It’s best that we put our own limits on ourselves.  If not, others will do it if we don’t respect the well being of those around us.  There are few who are such savages that they don’t put any limits on their conduct.  Most of us need to have more limits.

Limits are similar to convictions.  Convictions are firm beliefs about what is right and wrong.  If we have convictions, we will have limits.

Many times young people demand liberty.  They don’t want to put limits on their liberty; neither do they want others to do it.  They ignore or refuse to believe that there are activities that are detrimental to themselves and to those around them.  That’s why parents need to put limits on their children’s conduct at an early age.  Parents should have limits on what they will tolerate.  Few, if any, parents would tolerate it if their children gave them a kick in the rear.  They need to teach their children that they are limited in what they can do.  Children who haven’t learned to respect limits are a menace to society.  Authorities have to put limits on them.  It may mean that a judge will need to sentence them to spend time in a detention home or in prison.  Others are left at the periphery of poverty because they aren’t respected.  Children have to learn where their limits are.  Parents have to teach them the value of limits and punish them until they learn to respect them.

Some people make foolish mistakes in regard to where they should put their limits.  Some want to extend the boundaries to the point where they have few limits.  If you are in that category, you need to pull up the posts and move the fence in.  There are others who go to the extreme of asceticism.  That is they restrict themselves so much that they can hardly turn around without bumping into the fence.  If that is your problem, you need to pull up the posts and move the fence out a little farther.  We need wisdom to know where to put the limits.

Some people put limits on their liberty only to find that they don’t have the self discipline to stay within their limits.  Even the Apostle Paul expressed the frustration of being in that situation.  “For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I.   If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good.    Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me” (Romans 7:15-17).   Limits, for some, are just an arbitrary line   they have drawn but they reserve for themselves the liberty to cross the line when they want to.  “I really shouldn’t do this, but I’m going to do it anyhow.”  Our limits don’t do us any good unless they are, for us, like a high fence made of barbed wire.

If you are a child of God you should be willing to consult with God about where you should put your limits. We do that by studying the Bible. Some are afraid to do that for fear they won’t be left with any pleasure.  Nonsense!  Psalm 16:11 says “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. “  God’s limits are for our good.  We need to have faith that he knows what’s best for us.

Limits enable us to attain our goals.  The Apostle Paul said “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).   To reach goals there are things we must do, but there are other things we must refrain from doing.  The athlete knows that he must limit himself if he is to win the trophy.

We often suffer because those around us have few limits on their liberty.  They do things that hurt us.  Jesus gave us the golden rule to help us determine where we should put our limits.  It reads “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” (Matthew 7:12).

We can’t have the proper relationship with God without having limits.  Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).  Our desire should be that expressed by the Apostle Paul in Colossians 1:10.  “That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God.”

We also need to place limits on our mind.  Romans 8:7 says, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”  We may have limits on the things we would do with our body, but at the same time it’s possible to give liberty to our mind to imagine the pleasure we would have if we did those things.  Doing so breaks down our inhibitions to the point that we would be powerless to resist the temptation if it presented itself.  That’s why, for us, looking at pornography should be off limits.

Our limits define our character.  Those who know us, know  they can trust us because they know that we have limits.

My friend, you need to be a child of God with a desire to please him.  Even if you aren’t, you still need limits.  They are for your good.  Don’t hesitate to put limits on your liberty and abide by them.


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