My Toddler Taught Me This
Our son was nine months old when he started walking. Upright and mobile, a new world of danger awaited him. I walked him over to the electrical outlet and told him never to touch it or put anything in it. To us, he seemed too young to walk, let alone comprehend instruction and warning.
But the very next afternoon, my son peeked his head around the corner, not knowing that I could see him from where I was sitting. Thinking I was otherwise distracted, he dashed for the outlet. Then he did something that shocked me. He glanced back once more to see if I was watching, right before attempting to touch it!
This comical family memory was also a sad and instructive moment for me. Still an infant, my son had already bought into the deepest and darkest of all human delusions—that we can ignore boundaries and not face the consequences.
Adam and Eve were the first to buy into this lie (see Genesis 3), and we have been doing the same ever since. Perhaps you have experienced one of these consequences:
- Blew off studying and received a negative grade;
- Ate far too much, far too often and gained weight;
- Spent more than you earned and found yourself in debt;
- Flirted with adulterous thoughts or actions and lost the trust of your spouse;
- Cheated on your taxes or slacked off at work and faced the penalties when discovered;
- Treated your child harshly and experienced a cold and distant relationship later in life;
- Neglected the spiritual disciplines and found yourself ensnared in a dangerous sin.
No matter how large or small, ignoring boundaries and denying consequences is rooted in something more profound—a rejection of the divine purpose for which each of us was created.
We were not created to find our way, define our needs, and discover our joy. We were made for God, to live for his glory, and to experience the fullest expression of our purpose in a loving, worshipful community with him.
Every sin we commit is adulterous because we are unfaithful to the love relationship we were designed to have with God and instead run into the arms of other lovers. (Take time today to read the graphic adultery imagery the Lord uses to describe the sin of Israel in Ezekiel 16.)
Or examine the Ten Commandments. The first few commands all have to do with loving and worshiping God. The rest then detail all the areas in which we are tempted to replace God with something else or do harm to someone who dares get in the way of what we want or have defined as a need.
The practical theology is simple: when we break our relationship with God, we inevitably will break his rules. And when we trespass his wise, loving boundaries, there are inescapable and painful consequences, both in this world and in the one to come.
Remind yourself today that you are God’s image-bearer. You were made for a relationship with him. He sets boundaries because he knows precisely what you need and what you do not. Find your life of freedom and joy inside that wisdom.
Living as if you are an independent being, free to write your narrative and outline your rules, will never work.
Paul David Tripp
1. Consider a recent occasion when you warned someone you loved about the negative consequences of their decision. What happened when they ignored your wisdom and overstepped the boundary?
2. Did the boundary and consequence seem obvious to you? What potentially caused the other person to be blind to it, or the perceived pleasure on the other side worth more than the danger?
3. What boundary have you overstepped recently? What sin are you currently flirting with or trapped in? What are the consequences, and are they causing others to suffer in addition to you?
4. How can you practically strengthen your intimate relationship with the Lord? How will falling deeper in love with your Savior cause you to flee from sinful passions? (2 Timothy 2:22, 1 Corinthians 6:18)
5. In what way might you be treating the world (and people) like an endless buffet of delights for your consumption? Identify one specific area this week that you can surrender to the Lord and, instead, live out his design for your life instead of pursuing your desires.