Note: I am playing a bit of catch-up in this post. I missed a question from last week. I will address it first and then answer this week’s question.
Loving our Neighbours – Boundaries (Ro 13:8-10)
The question was asked:
Would it be fair to say that you could apply this lesson to family?
One of the points I was making as we applied this text to being neighbours was that love for another does not override that person’s responsibilities. They remain answerable for their choices and the resulting consequences.
In discussing this I presented the concept of ‘boundaries’:
Boundaries define us. They define what is me and what is not me. A boundary shows me where I end and someone else begins, leading to a sense of ownership.
Knowing what I am to own and take responsibility for gives me freedom. – Drs. Cloud & Townsend, Boundaries
Drs. Cloud and Townsend apply the concept of boundaries to families, writing:
Second only to learning how to bond…the most important thing parents can give children is a sense of responsibility–knowing what they are responsible for and knowing what they aren’t responsible for, knowing how to say no and knowing how to accept no.
It has been my experience that when children are infants parents are responsible for almost everything. This has to change as the child grows. Parents need to foster and encourage the development of responsibility so that the child is prepared for the independence and accountability that comes with adulthood.
Loving our Neighbours – Forgiveness (Ro 12:17-21)
This week’s question was:
What can be done when communication has been cut off?
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. (Ro 12 NIV)
There are times when we are in conflict with our neighbour. Our response in those situations is to do what we can to advance restoration of the relationship. Our options are greatly reduced if our neighbour does not want to resolve the difference or seek any kind of reconciliation with us.
That is how I would understand the situation behind this question. In that case, trying to initiate dialogue with a neighbour who is intentionally stonewalling could very well make things worse. I would consider taking a ‘time out’ on direct communication and pray that: 1) God would provide my neighbour with blessings that will promote life and faith, 2) God would soften their heart toward me and 3) God would show me an indirect approach that would be fruitful.
Praying that they receive true good from God helps me acquire a better attitude toward them so that I am ready when a communication opportunity comes my way.