There’s something dangerous about adulthood.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great time. I wouldn’t go back to being a kid even if you paid me. I love driving, having my own money, freedom.
But it’s just that – the freedom – that trips me up sometimes. I can do whatever I want, technically, so I do. And although that might sound like a really great thing, it means that there’s logically no reason to stop myself from doing certain not so great things.
Unless, of course, someone sets a boundary.
Joshua 15 is all about boundaries. Each tribe had a carefully declared plot of land to their name, and the tribe of Judah is no different. The chapter describes the ins and outs of Judah’s land inheritance – where it starts and stops, and what cities it includes.
It’s boring stuff, real estate stuff, but does it hold another meaning for us?
Maybe this is just me, but I can imagine feeling a little greedy as an Israelite in the tribe of Judah.
Even if I was being given so much, just the mere knowledge that there was more that I couldn’t have would sting me.
I know because I’m like that today. Sure, the feeling only crops up when I play Monopoly, but we all know from experience with capitalism that greed isn’t something that goes away just because someone has money.
Maybe that has something to do with why we get greedy too – not with land or with money, but with our free will.
God has given us all boundaries, limits on what we can do. “Thou shalt not” this and “thou shalt not” that. If those boundaries are a fence, then we often find ourselves standing at it, leaning on it, or just leaping clear over it into the wilderness of sin.
It feels natural. It feels right. So we justify it. “God didn’t mean to say we shouldn’t do this, right?” “It’s actually really legalistic to say that this is a sin.” “We aren’t even really sure if the Bible is calling this an abomination.”
And all the while, as we stand at our fence, greedily arguing with ourselves and with God, we’re ignoring everything God has already given us inside His boundaries.
We aren’t exploring the endless cities He’s given us, where we learn more about Him and His word.
We’re ignoring the lakes and streams and ponds in our boundaries; the refreshing and beautiful joys He is offering us.
Our backs are turned to the mountains and hills dotting our land, even though climbing those reveal to us the lessons that come from obedience.
Instead, we’re too focused on what God won’t let us do. We may think we’re on a more enlightened path, but that’s only because we don’t know how happy we would be if we stayed inside God’s boundary.
“You are not to leave my boundary, or even place a foot outside of it, or you will die.”
From the Garden of Eden, to the children of Israel, to now, God’s boundaries have been only for our good.
Our arrogance and self-importance lead us to quibble over and flat-out ignore so many of God’s commands. We’ve forgotten who we are and who God is. We’ve forgotten that the wages of sin is death. We’ve forgotten that God’s law is born out of His love.
The Creator knows best what will allow His creation to thrive. The Potter knows exactly how to shape and bend His clay.
That’s why when it comes to our boundaries, we can only listen to God and His Word. This shuns legalism and extremism, but it also shuns liberalism and selfishness.
Because at the end of the day, the only way to true happiness and true peace is God’s way.
Yes, it’s hard to trust Him when He asks us to give up something we love, but we pray for strength. Yes, it’s hard to have faith when it seems like His law is unfair, but we pray for understanding.
And God gives it.
And as we continue to trust Him and obey Him, we will see that even though not doing what we want was the hardest decision we ever made, it was also the best decision.
What do you think? What boundaries has God set for you and me? Are we honoring them?