How to Set Boundaries with Love – Like Jesus

We’ve all been in relationships in which we look back at situations and see where a boundary could’ve been set. We can walk away feeling hurt. The problem is that the enemy tells us lies about how to set boundaries. He pulls us into a place of exhaustion, shame, guilt, and even avoidance. 

This is not where God wants us to be. He has a purpose and plan for each of us. And to discover that plan, we need to know how to set boundaries with love. 

Why Setting Boundaries Is Hard

Setting boundaries isn’t easy. Ephesians 6:12 tells us why setting boundaries is hard…

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”

Satan’s lies keep us in the dark. He places condemning words on us to keep us from connecting to God’s Word. He knows that God’s Word is our guide that gives us wisdom and confidence about how to set boundaries—healthy ones that lead us into our purposes. 

Satan magnifies rejection from our pasts so that all we remember is the pain instead of the future of our God-given purposes. However, when we take our pain to God, he will use it for good!

The voice of our Almighty God bids us near so that we can step out of the darkness and into his all-encompassing light. He wants to reveal his ways of setting boundaries with love. 

When we set boundaries using God’s Word, it intercepts the condemning words of our pasts and frees us to love and live the way in which we were created. 

2 Lies About Setting Boundaries

1. You must be nice.

As little girls, we are often told to “be nice.” These words can plant seeds within our hearts that Satan begins to manipulate. Those seeds don’t produce a harvest of joy but of fear and shame—two of the enemy’s greatest tactics against our souls.  In a previous blog, What Does the Bible Say about Setting Personal Boundaries, we discovered that God’s will is not that that we are nice, but instead that we make a difference and stand in his strength and share the truth. 

2. If you say no, you are being selfish.

Have you ever thought that if something is asked of you, then you must do it? I know I have. Many women are people pleasers. We are nurturers by nature, and the enemy loves to exploit that God-given trait. So, he tells us we must say yes whenever we are asked to do something. As a result, we can run ragged and feel guilty. Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:30). He doesn’t want us to be burdened and burned out. Instead, his voice gives us renewed minds and nourished souls.

How Jesus Set Boundaries

So, how did Jesus do it? Thinking about the life of Jesus, I realized he set boundaries… with love. He had limitations. He needed nourishment—both spiritual and physical. He rested, and he was aware that some people could not be trusted. 

  • “Because of the miraculous signs Jesus did in Jerusalem at the Passover celebration, many began to trust in him. But Jesus didn’t trust them, because he knew all about people. No one needed to tell him about human nature, for he knew what was in each person’s heart.”—John 2:23-25

But he still loved. 

3 Ways Jesus Set Boundaries

1. Jesus established prayer as a priority. He understood the importance of having quiet time with the Father. He withdrew from crowds to pray, even when he was in the active ministry of teaching and healing. 

“But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.”—Luke 5:16

 2. Jesus taught to be confident in your “yeses” and “nos.” In Matthew 5, Jesus explained that when we sway in our yeses and nos, our characters can be questioned. Because our identity is in him, when we seek him for guidance, we can be confident in our yeses and nos. 

“’Just say a simple, “Yes, I will,” or “No, I won’t.” Anything beyond this is from the evil one.’”—Matthew 5:37

3. Jesus expected others to state their needs. In Matthew 20, Jesus’s question to the blind men was relational. He wanted to be invited into their journey. Because of his perfect love, he doesn’t force us to choose him. 

We can take this principle and apply it to our relationships. Others can ask for help and we don’t need to feel guilty for “not reading their minds.” Likewise, we can feel free to invite others into our lives and ask for support when we need it. 

“Two blind men were sitting beside the road. When they heard that Jesus was coming that way, they began shouting, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on us!’… When Jesus heard them, he stopped and called, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’”—Matthew 20:30, 32

There are a number of other ways Jesus set boundaries, from confronting wrong behavior (Matthew 16:23, Matthew 21:23-27) to knowing the need for rest (Hebrews 4:9-11).

What Boundaries Do You Need to Set?

There are times in our lives when boundaries need to be set. If we have been hurt, we can often say things such as, “I will never open myself up again.” Although this is a boundary, we need to ask ourselves if this is a boundary that has been set due to fear or one that comes from the Holy Spirit. 

The Bible says that the Holy Spirit “will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future” (John 16:13). 

When we seek the Spirit’s guidance, he will reveal how to set boundaries and which ones should be set. 

3 Ways to Get Started Setting Boundaries

1. Prayerfully ask God to guide you in this boundary-setting journey. God’s Word reminds us that we are to examine our ways (Lamentations 3:40). Come to the feet of Jesus and honestly share what is on your heart. If you are struggling with exhaustion, or feel as though you are walking on eggshells in a relationship, you can “Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you” (1 Peter 5:7). 

2. State your core identity in Christ. As you begin to set boundaries, the enemy’s words will press in, causing you to question your core identity in Christ. As the Spirit begins revealing areas for which to set boundaries, it’s equally important to record and recite your core identity in Christ. Write down scriptures that remind you that he gives you strength when you are weak. 

3. Keep connecting to the Word and record your boundaries. God is faithful. As we seek him through this journey, he will start revealing needed boundaries. But distractions often pop up, causing us to retract from our time in his Word. This is a time we must retreat into God’s presence. Write down how God is leading you to set boundaries. As you read more scripture, you’ll notice something—God will continue to connect his Word to your personal situations

If you want to hear more of my teaching about how to set boundaries, click HERE for my podcast Setting Boundaries: Letting Go of Being Nice to Learn How to Say No.

Discover how nourishing your heart with God’s Word will transform the way you live HERE.