Larry Stephens - Borders

Our Bible studies here in Scandinavia lately have been in Joshua; this week it was chapters 18 and 19. It's pretty "dry" reading, in one sense - just an endlessly long list of place names, defining the boundaries of the different tribes' inheritance in the Promised Land.

An oft recurring word, naturally, is "border," and as a result, I've been thinking about borders, or boundaries. Every life has them and we all must respect them. There is a saying that "good fences make good neighbors." Maybe one could think that if they were really good neighbors then the fence between them wouldn't matter so much, but it doesn't work that way. We must respect each other's borders or there will quickly be trouble.

A verse in Thessalonians warns about "going beyond and defrauding (or wronging) his brother in any matter." Overstepping like that would be a sure invitation to trouble and strife. And it says the Lord is the avenger of such, making it even more serious. We would not only have the brother or neighbor we've wronged to contend with, but also the Lord Himself.

Another verse in Thessalonians speaks of being a busybody in other people's matters. No one appreciates meddlers and troublemakers like that. We must keep our feet on our own side of the line and take care of our own business.

Another thought about borders has appealed to me, too. We usually think of them in the negative sense of limits or limitations, as indeed they are, but borders don't only shut out and exclude, they also encompass and include! We've often heard about not being on the inside looking out, but rather on the inside looking in. Focusing on what is on the other side of the border, off limits for us, leads easily to discontent. As the cliché goes, the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence! We need rather to focus on what is within our borders. Maybe it's true that we are shut out from much that others have and enjoy, but there is plenty within our boundaries to satisfy us and keep us busy if we just have our eyes open to see it. Each of us has our own place to fill, chosen for us by God, and our happiness and satisfaction is dependent on filling it to the best of our ability.

Each boundary in Joshua was determined by casting lots, and we read in Proverbs that the lot always falls where the Lord wants it to. It might seem like it's just by chance, but it's not. It's by God's design. I've thought of the last chapter of John where Jesus spoke to Peter about what lay in the future for him. Peter turned and saw John and said to Jesus, "And what about him?" Jesus said, "What is that to you? You follow Me." There's a lot of significance in those few words!