Confident Resistance

“But when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabs, the Ammonites, and the men of Ashdod heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry” Nehemiah 4:7

Imagine what my home would be like if I didn’t have any doors, and if my yards didn’t have any fences.  Anyone who wanted to could just come in and open the refrigerator,BrickWalls-m sit on the sofa and run up my pay-per-view bill.  Anyone who wanted to could come into my yard, pick all the plums and enjoy the Jacuzzi.  And when I got home with my family, there would be no food left, probably a big mess to clean up and a huge bill to pay.  All because I had no way of keeping out the people who had no right to be there.

But that’s what it’s like when a person has little or no boundaries in their relationships. People without boundaries are people who have trouble saying “no”, and are generally convinced (consciously or unconsciously)  that they have no right to keep people from intruding on them emotionally, physically and spiritually with attitudes or actions of disrespect. These are people who have learned to be passive.

Here’s how the American Dictionary defines the word passive:

Not acting in open or positive action; being acted upon and submitting without resistance to certain unhealthy conditions without sufficient strength

Being passive or acting without boundaries is more common than we think, especially among Christians.  Perhaps they have known a behavior or action was wrong and even hurting them, but somehow the wires get crossed and they feel they have no right to speak up.  In fact, sometimes we want to be “nice” and think we’re being loving by doing this.  But being “nice” just encourages a bully to continue, and it gets harder and harder to stand up to them. Over time it seems easier to allow things that hurt rather than resist and keep boundaries up that protect us and keep us safe.

That’s what was happening in Nehemiah’s day.  The walls of Jerusalem had been demolished and the last of the Jewish people who lived there were being terrorized and demoralized by the other people groups who moved into the area.  When Nehemiah came back to help the Jews rebuild the city (complete with a decree from the king), his enemies displayed an entitled attitude and set about to discredit him.

But he resisted, knowing he had the authority to do so, and was confident in his mission.  So under his leadership they built up the walls, reestablished their identity, and simultaneously guarded all that God had given them as good stewards of His work in their lives.

That’s what we must do too.  How often, in the name of love, do we allow others to disrespect us, intrude on our values and generally do hurtful things?  As counterintuitive as it seems, we love more when we set boundaries.  I Corinthians 13:6 tells us that “love does not rejoice in evil, but rejoices in the truth”. When we cease to allow others to continue in wrongdoing we’re being good stewards not only of the truth God’s given us, but we also preserve and protect the things He’s entrusted into our care—our families, our emotions, our spiritual health and possessions.

Let’s be confident today in His good work and His ability in us to strengthen our resolve to live in the truth and help others do the same.

And the next time I visit your home, I’ll make sure I knock first.

© 2013 Renee Dallas

For MomsNEXT Newport Mesa Church 2013


  1. Elaine,
    Thanks for the comments – in my life this has been an important thing to learn. My not having proper, God-given boundaries caused damage not only to me, but very it hurt my primary relationships. So, hopefully, we can all learn that being strong doesn’t also mean you’re being loving. God Bless, Elaine. And thanks again for your comment.

  2. I really appreciate what you wrote here. Lately I’ve realized that one of the last effects of trauma from my childhood is that I allow others to hurt me without taking a stand against it. In other words, I’m passive. Too often we Christians can convince ourselves that we are being forgiving or gentle, but inside we do feel damage being done. Thankfully, God is teaching me how to let go of this passive behavior. And it really helps my relationships. Thanks for posting this.

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