Thank God for limits …

The first time I visited a Chicago suburb, I was taken aback by the back yards of the homes there.

I arrived in Illinois from Arizona, where folks in the West like their fences, something families in Chicago suburbs were less concerned about. As I drove through some of the suburbs, I saw home after home without any back yard fences. Instead of individual back yards, it looked more like the houses were built on a green belt.

What threw this Westerner was there were no defined limits.

That reminds me of one of the posts on Twitter that I read this morning. It started with a very common encouragement, “Never set limits …”

That’s an idea that we human beings tend to embrace, at least in theory. No limits. It means we’re free to do whatever we want. There’s just one problem with that, which is we tend to want things that aren’t good for ourselves or others.

Eat anything you want is one way of living without limits. But it has ugly consequences.

Treat people however you want is another way of living without boundaries, but you’re likely to find life to be lonely and empty if you live that way.

Remove the limits to how you spend and you’ll be broke.

Life is not better without limits, it’s worse. Much worse!

That’s why the gracious God who created us has mercifully provided us with limits. Not fences to corral us from the joys and good things of life, but to keep us from what harms us and others. God sets limits for all of us so that we can live the fullest life at our best.

Several years ago, a couple of psychologists conducted a study where they took a group of children and placed them in a fenced back yard. They told the children to go play and to fully enjoy themselves. What the researchers observed was that the children ran and played with vigor and abandon. They were exhausted from the fun they had!

The researchers then took the same children and placed them in an unfenced back yard and gave them the same instructions to go play and to fully enjoy themselves. This time, the children played with much greater reserve, staying close to the house with a muffled interaction. The researchers concluded the difference between the vibrant play experience and the constrained play experience was the presence or lack of a fence. When children had clearly defined boundaries, they could fully release themselves to play, knowing where they would be safe, and they indulged fully. But a lack of boundaries constrained their behavior, they felt less safe and more confused about what was appropriate.

God has greatly blessed us with freedom from sin coupled with the limits of holiness, righteousness, and justice. He draws all that out for us in the Bible. By giving us these limits, we understand how we can indulge in living freely without any confusion of what is good for us and others.

Do you respect the limits God has provided for you? Or are you still living out-of-bounds and attempting to live life without limits?