You are free… to choose the right path!

How do you know when you are on the right path?

Are there any signs and markers on the roads of life that help you navigate this crazy world?

Can you imagine a series of well-marked boundaries that indicate your growth as a leader, parent, or disciple – like bases on a baseball field or the end zone on a football field?

If you aren’t feeling that last question, I am not too surprised. Our society has lost its taste for anything that may cause us to feel restricted in any way. We love our freedom to choose whatever we want, even if it is not something we can or should choose. If I offered you a decent analogy between the game of baseball and your life using the bases and foul lines and rules of the game as boundaries that dictate your success in life, most people would reject in full or in part any restriction placed on their life.

“The way of fools seems right to them, but the wise listen to advice.” – Proverbs 12:15

Let me be more direct. Many Christians live as if the Bible is an inspirational book filled with suggestions. With our lives we say, “God is serious about this stuff, but He is also understanding.” We love the God of grace and mercy and love and gloss over the righteous, holy, just, God who is as much our Lord and King as He is our Savior.

“The path of life leads upward for the prudent, to keep them from going down to the realm of the dead.” – Proverbs 15:24

Our rejection of God’s standards is often subtle. We justify our flirtation with sin or our carefree approach to applying God’s Word in our daily lives, and by doing so, we put ourselves and our ministries at risk. Other times we can be so lazy in our spiritual disciplines that we fail to even consult God in prayer or by seeking His will through reading and meditating on His Word. We surmise, “God gave us brains, and we can make good decisions on our own. After all, He knows my heart.”

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14

We usually think about this verse in the context of salvation, but I believe there is another application here: well-meaning Christians often take baby steps to the edge of the road and think they can hover on the farthest edge and still honor God with their lives. But those who live on the edge in any meaningful area, eventually find themselves very far away from the path they were once on.

What do I mean by that?

Once happily married couples are getting divorced after 10, 20, or 30 years of marriage. Boundaries were not protected and respected and it is over in a flash. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard about a Pastor or Youth Pastor being unfaithful to their spouse, and it all started with a slight deviation from the righteous path.

Once well-respected businessmen and women cut a corner here and there to stay competitive, because everyone else is doing it. But then they get caught and they lose their license, or the client, or the confidence of their partners. What should have been the golden years of doing business has turned into a personal nightmare that threatens to ruin their career.

People mock the Vice President for saying he refuses to have business meetings alone, 1 on 1, with a woman, because he wants to protect and honor his marital relationship. Lots of solid Christians argue against his logic and refuse to see this decision as a healthy boundary because they have a “best friend” that is of the opposite sex. It can work, but it can also be an absolute disaster, and more often than not it is. Sure it can work with the right accountability and transparency and with the right boundaries in place. But if you fail to recognize the need for such boundaries, then you are taking a risk that is unnecessary.

Call me “old-fashioned”, but I think erring on the side of caution and establishing clear boundaries is honoring to God and shows godly wisdom. I may be out of touch with the current generation or I may have just enough experience and wisdom to know that there are things we should or should not do for the sake of ourselves, others, and for the glory of God.

“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. No one should seek their own good, but the good of others.” – 1 Corinthians 10:23-24

Sometimes your intention is not enough to justify the risks you take. We take liberties in other ways that we see as “more spiritual.” We take calls and run out to address emergency situations at the expense of our family. Sometimes, what can be done tomorrow or on Monday, we rush out to take care of right away because it seems so urgent. There will be legitimate emergencies that require your attention, but not all emergency calls are real emergencies. Without boundaries, guidelines, or a set of well thought out questions that help you to discern how serious a matter is, your family will suffer.

Setting boundaries and obtaining the tools necessary to thrive in your Christian life and ministry require much wisdom – so seek wisdom and understanding.

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding.” – Proverbs 3:13

“But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving,considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” – James 3:17

Having found wisdom, the boundaries you set will not be seen as restrictions, but as useful markers to help you stay on the righteous path!

Chris Coggins
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