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Jesus Shows Us Healthy Relational Boundaries

When Jesus lived on earth, he never walked on eggshells around people, worried about upsetting them, clung to them for approval, or pushed to get them to do what they should.

He was self-aware, secure, solid, purposeful, straightforward, loving.

How did Jesus do this? How was he able to be so loving, even to difficult people and enemies, and at the same time take care of himself?

I’m a psychologist, so I want to understand the workings of Jesus’ personality and soul! I want to apply his lived wisdom and grace to my life and yours.

Jesus was in the “easy yoke.” He was standing in the invisible kingdom of his Father who loved him!

Everyone is “yoked” to someone. We attach ourselves to certain people or things. We’re prone to live with “insecure attachment”, clinging to unhealthy relationships, staying in our heads to avoid emotions and intimacy, or escaping into addictions.

Jesus shows us how to be “securely attached” to God and trustworthy people who give us empathy and grace. His “law of love” is a teaching; it’s a yoke, or a way of life (Mark 12:29-31).

Jesus was a devoted disciple of his Abba. He lived in that bond of affection, submission, and wisdom. God nourished him and gave him love, joy, peace, and power.

Even as a young man at the temple, Jesus was able to maintain a separate emotional grounding from his mother Mary’s frustration with him. When she had lost him for three days, he told her he wasn’t just in the temple, he was in his Father’s house (Luke 2:41-52).

In his later easy yoke teaching, he elaborated on what is the theme Bible passage for my life: “This is a unique Father-Son operation, coming out of Father and Son intimacies and knowledge… Walk with me and work with me — watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace” (Matthew 11:27, MSG).

Jesus demonstrated healthy and loving boundaries throughout his public ministry.

For instance, consider the story of Jesus at the Cana wedding with Mary. Mary seems to put pressure on him to fix her friends’ problem of having run out of wine. He calmly and matter of factly set a limit with her and told her that this was not his problem. But then in secret, he went ahead and miraculously changed the water into wine! He blessed the host and wedding party, and more importantly, he revealed his glory to his disciples (John 2:1-11).

Not long after this, when Jesus was ministering in a house that was jam-packed and overflowing with people, his boundaries were again tested. His mother and brothers heard about the situation and “they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’” Perhaps they wanted to take Jesus back to Nazareth to their family home and carpenter’s shop.

But again Jesus did not let Mary’s (or his siblings’) desires define or control him. He spoke the truth in love and said no. He insisted that he was going to stay in the house and continue teaching the people and healing those who were sick. In fact, they should join him in doing God’s will! (Mark 3:20-21, 31-35).

The Gospels are full of examples of our Master’s lovingkindness and life-giving wisdom that come from his clear and assertive identity, rooted in his secure attachment to Abba.

By the way, his loving mother Mary was his primary human relationship and she provided a nurturing and secure attachment for him as a child. This strengthened his faith in God from an early age (Luke 2:16, 20, 33, 40, 52).


This devotional is adapted from Bill’s book, Your Best Life in Jesus’ Easy Yoke: Rhythms of Grace to De-Stress and Live Empowered. 

Listen to the companion podcast Family: De-enmeshing with Meta-communication. Bill and Kristi discuss boundaries and enmeshed relationships, and how pastors can set healthy boundaries in the midst of struggle.

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