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Where are the boundaries? (Impossible #4)

Give to him who asks of you, (Matt 5:41a NASB)

There are bunches of people out there telling me to have boundaries. Don’t over commit. Let people know where their piece of you ends.

This is not how Jesus lived. Let me tell you a story. All 4 gospels tell the story of Jesus feeding the 5,000, but in Matthew we get a perspective that you might have missed. You can find this story in Matthew 14.

We begin with the telling of John the Baptist’s murder in prison to appease Herodias. Jesus is told this heart breaking news. Think of this for a moment – Jesus and John the Baptist were cousins. The scriptures don’t tell of any interaction between them after that moment of wonder when they were both in the womb until they meet in the Jordan, but little is told of either of their childhood days.

In any case, Jesus has a high regard for John, and in fact declares him to be the greatest of the prophets to that point.

I believe this news has a strong emotional impact on Jesus. He immediately seeks to get off by himself, but the crowds follow him.

He does not instruct the disciples to strong arm the crowd and give Him the space He so desires. He gives himself to the crowd. Matthew tells us He “felt compassion for them, and healed their sick,” and Mark says “He felt compassion for them because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and He began to teach them many things.” (Mark 6:34)

Feeding the 5000

As the shadows grew long, the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him to send the crowds away as they were far from civilization, and the crowd was getting hungry (and by crowd I suspect they were talking about themselves.)

You know the story of the feeding (and if not read it – there are tons of wonderful applications to be gleaned from it) but when all were fed, and the leftovers collected (one basket for each disciple) Jesus sends the disciples to the boat while He gets the crowd heading for home.

Finally Jesus gets to get off by himself to mourn the death of this great man of God, John the Baptist.

It has been a long day, and He had a heavy heart yet faced with the crowd following Him, tracking Him down, needy and pressing, He takes the time to give of himself. He taps the resources of heaven for the crowd even when He is spent emotionally.

I do OK ministering when I am physically tired, but when I hit the emotional wall – when I feel like I am going to drop – I get cranky and selfish. Jesus looks on the multitude and sees sheep without a shepherd, and ministers.

Hey – you know what – I do get that we need to be careful and not burn out – not over commit, not give what we don’t have.

I also know that Jesus had a deep reservoir to draw from. He stayed charged, by spending time in the presence of the Father, and was able to give when others were spent.

We need boundaries, but for most of us, if we recharged better, we could sense the compassion of the Lord and press through to heal and preach. [Tweet This]

Jesus did eventually send them away. Don’t over do this, but be willing to give of the deep that is within you.

Thanks for reading today.


Fence photo credit: joiseyshowaa via photopin cc

0 thoughts on “Where are the boundaries? (Impossible #4)

  1. Caddo Veil

    Wow and wow, Ben--good preachin' today. Not that you aren't good everyday, but today's message was one sent to me--just sayin'. God bless you bunches--love, sis Caddo (recharging!)

  2. Debbie

    I don't often hear this, Ben, so thank you. 🙂 I understand what you are saying about not overdoing it either, but I do want to do as much as He wants me to, without holding back because someone told me I should. God bless you as you live and serve from your relationship with Him.

    1. Ben Nelson

      Finding that place that is not overdoing it and running on empty, and not walking away from the amazing opportunities He places before us. Thanks for stopping by today! Your comments are a blessing.

  3. meetingintheclouds

    When in full time (voluntary) ministry, we often spent 20+ hour days, grabbing two or three hours sleep and continuing. God supplied our needs and our energy and sustained us, blessing our work. Then He gave us rest before the next activity, refreshing us physically and mentally. *HE* knows our limits. HE know what we can take and what we can do. HE knows when we need a break and He supplies.

    What an amazing God!

    1. Ben Nelson

      This is such a great testimony to God's provision for all He calls us to. I love to hear about God's faithfulness in the lives of those who give of their time to Him.

      Of course we are all supposed to be in full time ministry - right, but those of us with day jobs can forget who we really work for and who our provider really is.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Our God is an awesome God!

  4. Jeff

    I don't have a problem saying "no" to something if I don't feel like I need to be doing it. However, I also firmly believe that if we are doing things for the right reasons and in the right Power, "burnout" is not possible. I realize that's a radical statement, but it's how my wife and I manage to get up every single Saturday morning, go up to an elementary school, help unload a trailer, and set up a cafeteria for Sunday morning worship. We do it for Jesus; not for the pastor, not for the tech team leader, not for any of the other church leaders. We do it for Jesus, and Jesus keeps giving us the joy to keep doing it.

    Good words, friend. Good words.

  5. Ben Nelson

    That's awesome Jeff. Jesus was such an amazing servant, but He was totally focused on His relationship with His Father so there was always plenty to go around. The trick for me is not so much burnout as much as running on empty, and doing stuff out of the flesh because the Spirit is elsewhere.

    Thanks for the testimony dude.


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