The majority of my childhood memories revolve around milestone accomplishments such as learning to ride a bike, pulling my first tooth, or learning to tie my shoes. But there seems to be one accomplishment that trumped them all – learning how to use scissors.
I vividly remember sitting down at my Mamaw’s card table with a marker, scratch paper, and scissors. With the marker I would create the boundaries of my picture by drawing lines. I would then spend the next 30 minutes so precisely cutting on the lines I had drawn. A major crisis arose if I cut away from the drawn lines. But to cut an entire picture out while remaining perfectly on the line, was quite a celebration.
So what was the point of this tedious process?
Simply put, I enjoyed creating something beautiful. But in order to create something beautiful, I had to endure the hard work of setting boundaries, and cutting away anything that might take away from the finished masterpiece.
When God created us, He created a masterpiece. This masterpiece, unlike the ones I created as a child, was left unfinished, with room to grow, mold, and even change. Though God is ultimately in control of our lives and bodies, He has placed upon us the tedious responsibility of following his boundaries while cutting away all things that can harm His masterpiece.
Just as I drew boundaries before cutting off excess paper, we must first recognize God’s boundaries before we start out to accomplish goals in our lives. As our creator, God knows what will benefit our spirits, protect our hearts, motivate our minds, and bring us peace. In the same way, He knows what will dampen our spirits, hurt our hearts, and unsettle our minds. He so carefully laid out for us the “lines” to abide by through his word. His word is the “lamp” to our “feet” and the “light” to our “path” (Psalm 119:105). Without these lines, these boundaries, we would not know how to protect His masterpiece.
After we recognize the boundaries God has set in place for us, we must realize the importance of staying “on the lines.” God does not give us boundaries, or create these lines to punish us or exhaust us, but He creates them for our “own good” (Deuteronomy 10:13). We must understand that drifting away from His lines will only harm the masterpiece. We are told in John 15:5 that apart from God, apart from His boundaries, we “can do nothing”.
Once we recognize God’s boundaries and understand the importance of staying within those boundaries, we then must begin to cut away the “excess.” The “excess” includes all of the people, things, places, and influences that take the Holiness and beauty away from His design. We could focus on each of these areas individually, but as we all begin a new year of school and work, I want to focus on the area of people.
Many Christians find themselves torn between forgiveness, forgetting sins, showing unconditional love, and protecting the wellspring of live—the heart. We allow manipulative, controlling, selfish, jealous individuals trample on our emotions and peace, forgetting that we are called to protect ourselves from such people. So naturally when we look at the “how to” of cutting away the excess, we must ask, “who do we cut out?”
We must cut out those who: tamper with God’s word (Matthew 7:15), lead us away from God (Galatians 5:7-9), make themselves friends with the world (James 4:4), those with short tempers (Proverbs 22:24), those who initiate division (Romans 16:17), and those who take away our peace of mind and spirit (Proverbs 4:23).
By cutting out those who harm the masterpiece we are called to protect, we must not feel guilty. We are God’s temple, his holy city, his people, and anyone who takes away from such calling has no place inside of our boundaries. This might require breaking up with a boyfriend, switching to healthier friends, shunning certain family members, or even switching youth groups.
Rest assured, however, that as you work tediously at staying within God’s given boundaries and cutting out the excess people in your life, God will be there to give you wisdom, strength, comfort, and mercy.
How will you care for your masterpiece this year? Will you abide by the lines? Will you protect that inside of the boundaries? Will you cut away the excess?
You are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). So live like you’re worth protecting!