What Jesus Christ taught about trust, boundaries and assertivity!


I have had the desire to write this post for soooo long… months… but I needed to see a concise section of scripture.

I didn’t want a mish mash of lots of small bits and pieces. Praise God I got the passage of teaching in the last few days!

This teaching given by Jesus Christ is used for other puposes, so like me you may never have seen it in this light.

And for people who have been abused, or who have poor boundaries, or poor self esteem… this teaching will give you permission to protect yourself and to make better decisions.

In this passage of teaching (Matt 10:1-17) Jesus Christ has called His disciples to Himself. He is about to teach them. Who are His disciples? That’s you and me! 🙂

1He called his twelve disciples to him …

He gave them a specific goal and told them to avoid people/places who are not in the specific goal… in other words, you do not need to be responsible for everyone you know, but for the people God sends you to.

5These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among6Go rather to the…

Then He gave them advice to stay with “worthy” people. The AMP says “deserving”. You will see that later on Jesus warns against dangerous people, so the person you entrust should be someone safe.

11“Whatever town or village you enter, search for some worthy person there and stay at his house until you leave.

Now Jesus teaches them to evaluate the situation, to make a judgement. IS this a safe place for me? Are these people listening to me and hearing me?

13If the home is deserving, let your peace rest on it; if it is not, let your peace return to you.

And what’s more, if the people are NOT worthy – not safe, not reliable, not trustworthy – then move away from them. Don’t stay in an unsafe situation. If people don’t welcome you, leave them, go away from them!

14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words,

In fact, don’t just leave… shake the dust off your feet… don’t even take the dust with you, when you leave!

shake the dust off your feet when you leave that home or town.

Have you noticed? There is nothing meek and mild about this Jesus Christ – he has boundaries, common sense, assertivity and more!

Now Jesus tells us that there are wolves out there. And indeed there are!

16I am sending you out like sheep among wolves.

You are to be shrewd as a snake.

Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.

I think there are far too many Christians who refuse to be shrewd, and the wolves get them time and again. Perhaps they didn’t “search for” worthy people, and instead stayed with unworth people who were wolves?

And then Jesus drops the clanger. He knows our heart, he knows our desperation to get ahead and to succeed at the expense of others. So He warns us…

17Be on your guard against men…

Not everyone is bad, but His sensible advice is to look around you, and be aware of what’s happening. If you spot a wolf then leave!

What can we learn from this teaching that Jesus gave His disciples?

  1. It is that you should be focussed on the work He gives you to do. You can’t be all things to all people. If He sends you to help someone, you don’t have to help everyone on your way there and everyone on your way back.
  2. People can be dangerous, like wolves, and you need to be on your guard. So you need to make good decisions, be wise, be shrewd.
  3. Don’t entrust yourself to just anyone and everyone… instead… seek our worthy people, and if you get it wrong and they are not worthy, then leave them, move on and shake off the dust that got onto your feet while you were with them!

But when you DO find worthy people, people who will listen to you and hear you… then stay with them. Not everyone is dangerous, but Jesus Christ is clearly teaching that SOME ARE. But when you find safe people, stay with them. There are good people in this world. You have to “search for” them as He says in v11.

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45 responses to “What Jesus Christ taught about trust, boundaries and assertivity!

  1. We all have limits
    People set boundaries to protect themselves
    But as believers we are not called to be led by our boundaries
    We are called to be led by the Spirit
    With boundaries we draw the line
    With the Spirit we overcome our limits
    We are more than conquerors in Jesus
    We are called to love our enemies and to forgive them
    We are called to suffer for doing good
    Jesus overcame His human limits to save us
    We are called to follow in His footsteps
    Those who are led by the Spirit are the Sons of God.

    “But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in His footsteps.”
    1Peter 2:20-21

    Jesus was not led by boundaries
    He was led by the Spirit
    But he taught the people of His time boundaries
    For they did not have the indwelling Holy Spirit
    We who believe have His Spirit
    We are His sheep
    We have the power of His Spirit to overcome our limits for His sake.

  2. This is an incredible piece. Thank you for sharing. I have been looking for recourses on boundaries in the context of the church and believers.
    At the end of last year, my first romantic relationship with a fellow believer ended. There has been a vast amount of confusion primarily because we attend the same church and cannot figure out how to “be”. If I am completely honest, the relationship was mildly abusive due to some darkness and brokenness on both our parts. Our combination was incredibly unhealthy for one another. My issue is: Where is the line of forgiveness vs unhealthy contact? It is my temptation to greet him on Sundays. However, this ultimately puts me in the line of fire because I am still very much grieving the loss. Likewise, I am having trouble reconciling the fact that a fellow believer could treat me poorly behind closed doors and be so upstanding in our social scene. It confuses my brain and my heart because I cannot love him as a brother without falling madly in love with his redeeming qualities and take a million steps back in healing. I’ve considered leaving the church. However we have both been member since 2010. I am so heavily invested. I suppose a good question is: How do I reconcile this tragedy that has happened, grow in health and forgiveness while still maintaining the boundaries that will provide us a safe place of worship?

  3. Hi Mark. Thank you for overcoming your boundaries and not wiping the dust from your feet. GOD. BLESS

  4. Hi Mark. I said the Boundary Course is a temptation. The church must keep to the word of God as it is written in the Bible. The Boundary Course has take the word out of context and applied it to psychological worldly teaching. We are in the world but we are not of this world. We are born of the Spirit.

    • NOW we are in full agreement. The word of God comes first. He is the author and perfect or of our faith.

      BUT. Having boundaries is essential for Christians. The sermon on the mount is full of examples of good boundaries. For example, if you go into a town as a missionary then stay at a WORTHY (Christian, safe) house. If you can’t find one, then leave the town. If they won’t accept your message, leave the town and wipe the dust off your feet.

      If more Christians had good boundaries like this, there would be far less difficulty in our lives.

  5. Hi Mark. Many mature believers are doing the Boundaries course. The Boundaries course is a temptation to be led by self made boundaries instead of being led by the Holy Spirit. The Boundaries course is a temptation against suffering for doing good. The Boundaries course is a temptation against loving our enemies. The Boundaries course is a temptation to place self will before God’s Will. The Boundaries course is a temptation to place limits on love. The Boundaries course is a temptation to put self before others. The Boundaries course is a temptation for conflict. The Boundaries course is a temptation for divorce.

    • Then why does Jesus Christ give so much advice on what to do in various situations? And why does God give so much advice to people through Paul’s epistles? According to you all we need is to be led by the Holy Spirit. So was God wrong to write so much advice… advice about boundaries… in the NT?

    • But may I also agree with you that some boundaries teaching could cause a husband and wife to abandon Gods plan for marriage and instead behave in ways that are not God ordained. Gods words in scripture must come first.

    • Amen! That is the ideal. And as you know, it takes some time to reach that level of perfect maturity. So until the moment that you are there walk as He did, let His life be an example.

    • Scripture gives a vast amount of advice on how to love etc in Paul’s epistles. Even when we are led by the Spirit, we must still follow Jesus Christs example and also have wisdom.

  6. Mark,

    What a powerful teaching and so so needed in the body of Christ today. I have in the last year began to grasp boundaries and learn how to set them in my life and the level of peace and joy it is bringing is so worth it.

    My husband and I just left a church where unfortunately our boundaries were not respected at all. After 10 years of living with weak boundaries and we left burned out, exhausted and had little joy. Our marriage was suffering as well. I realized I was not glorifying my Lord at all by living this way and needed to make some serious changes.

    Looking back we see this issue as being the cause of so much destruction in the lives of those we have fellowshipped with for the last decade. It is grieving to see the effects of this in the families and youth.

    In contrast the new church we joined is very respectful of boundaries and encourages people taking time for themselves and families. We are seeing a big difference in the families and especially in the kids. We ourselves are experiencing such a level of healing in our own hearts and in our marriages now that we are setting boundaries. We are discovering that healthy people have no problems with our boundaries and expressing our personal need for space! The freedom this has brought to our lives is amazing!

    We are beginning to trust again and allow healthy people into our lives again and I owe much of this to understanding boundaries.

    So thank you for teaching on boundaries and keep up the good work! I believe this teaching is so necessary for our current time and for the next generation.

    • Hi Katie… yes it is desperately needed in churches and also between people. Its wonderful that we can see Jesus Christ modelling good boundaries. That means its also OK for us to do the same. 🙂

  7. Hi Mark. The reason Jesus taught his disciples boundaries is because they had not received the Holy Spirit yet to guide them. Before Jesus died all people used boundaries as a means of self control. The problem with boundaries is that we have sinful natures and make boundaries to suit ourselves. That’s why after the resurrection of Jesus He gave us His Holy Spirit to teach and guide us. Life is complex. We can’t control life with boundary lines. We must listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will tell us when to sat yes and when to say no through the conviction of our hearts.

    • Hi John. It would be WONDERFUL if everyone reading this heard the Holy Spirit so clearly. But for the rest… perhaps most of us… we need workable scriptural guidelines… which is what this article aims to explain.

      God bless you!

  8. Hey Mark,
    Thanks for posting this article. The topic of boundaries can be a fascinating thing to explore. How do we build different boundaries for different people? What can we learn from those who violate our boundaries? I wrote a small piece on this topic and include the image above, along with a link to your site at the end of my article. You can find it here:
    http://www.psychologyforgrowth.ca/boundaries-what-we-can-learn-from-cats-and-dogs/

    Keep writing!

  9. So I don’t know if you’ll see this because this was posted a while ago, however, I am currently struggling quite a bit with this issue. I am very much torn between having boundaries and loving completely and fully. I often wonder if our boundaries are simply created from a western desire to have our own space. Yet your article made a lot of sense to me. But again I’m torn. The lines are often much more fuzzy than the person obviously being dangerous or “unworthy”. For example, the situation I’m currently in is with someone you described below, a “boundary buster”. What you said describes them exactly. In fact they are sleeping in the room next to me because I couldn’t think of a logical reason to say no. They are not a bad person however. So I’m struggling. Am I being unloving to say no to their requests, and if not, then where can/should I draw the boundaries in a loving manner? Any thoughts would be appreciated.

    • Hi

      I respect your honesty and transparency. There is SO MUCH biblical advice that I could suggest.

      May I just list a few?

      You couldnt say no… I recommend you start saying no more often.

      You couldnt think of a logical reason to say no… you dont need to justify yourself or your choices… the bible say “let your no be no” and thats all… keep it simple.

      The person is a boundary buster… then get away from them and dont bluff yourself that they are good or healthy for you. They need to have respect for your choices for your life.

      Yes draw boundary lines in a loving manner. But if the person doesnt respect your choices, then up the intensity and enforce the boundary more strongly. Bear in mind that the bjble gives higher and higher steps in intensity when someone has wronged you.

      Loving others… includes loving yourself. If your life is unhealthy you are indirectly leading them astray. The bible says you love others AS you love yourself. Your care and respect that you show for yourself is the determining factor for the quality of love you can provide to others around you.

      For example… if a mom doesnt say no to bad behaviout of her husband… she is not loving herself and she runs herself down and the has less to off others… also she is not loving her kids by demonstrating how to handle conflict in their lives as adults… also she is facilitating his bad behaviour and not causing him to feel the consequences of his bad choices, in that way she is not loving him, she is enabling him to keep on behaving badly and never feel consequences and therefore he never learns and never grows.

      I hope this helps you. As my counsellor once said to me “being nice” is a virus. Dont be nice. Instead be honest… with love and wisdom.

      God bless you, Mark.

      • Hi. Yes, thank you for your reply. It certainly gives me a lot to think about, and I agree in general with what you say. I am still trying though to find a balance of having boundaries without completely getting away from the person. My main reason for this is that the person in question does have a very mild mental condition, which certainly contributes to their more “boundary busting” nature. I’m not excusing it, but also trying to take the whole person into account. I feel as though, at least in my opinion, I can keep my boundaries yet keep the friendship as well. As long as I don’t give in. I suppose what I was struggling with most was the concept of having boundaries in general. I’ve certainly come to more of an understanding that they are good and necessary.

        • Definitely good and definitely necessary. Yes. Without them you lack self respect and others will not have respect for you.

          You said the person has a very mild mental condition. If its very mild then they will be able to comprehend respect for other people’s choices and limits.

          One profound truth I have learned is this… WE train others in how they should treat us!

  10. Pingback: Psychology for Growth » Boundaries: What We Can Learn From Cats And Dogs·

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  12. Pingback: Boundaries: What We Can Learn From Cats And Dogs | Knowledge For Growth·

  13. ” ALL SCRIPTURE IS GOD- BREATHED AND IS USEFUL FOR TEACHING, REBUKING, CORRECTING AND TRAINING IN RIGHTEOUSNESS.”
    2TIMOTHY3:16

    “FOR IT IS COMMENDABLE IF A MAN BEARS UP UNDER THE PAIN OF UNJUST SUFFERING BECAUSE HE IS CONSCIOUS GOD. BUT HOW IS IT TO YOUR CREDIT IF YOU RECEIVE A BEATING FOR DOING WRONG AND ENDURE IT? BUT IF YOU SUFFER FOR DOING GOOD AND ENDURE IT, THIS IS COMMENDABLE BEFORE GOD. TO THIS YOU WERE CALLED, BECAUSE CHRIST SUFFERED FOR YOU,LEAVING YOU AN EXAMPLE, THAT YOU SHOULD FOLLOW IN HIS STEPS.”

    1 PETER2:19 – 21

    “WHEN THEY HURLED THEIR INSULTS AT HIM,HE DID NOT RETALIATE; WHEN HE SUFFERED, HE MADE NO THREATS. INSTEAD, HE ENTRUSTED HIMSELF TO HIM WHO JUDGES JUSTLY.”
    1 PETER 2:23

    • So… it seems that you are the kind of person who refuses to acknowledge other people’s boundaries.

      That kind of person is called a “boundary buster” and they hurts other people by stopping others from being in charge of their own choices for their own life. That kind of person thinks they know better and they will make everyone else do what they want – they impose their view on others, denying the other person the freedom that God gave us.

      As a result I will be deleting your comments from now on, with no further discussion on it.

  14. JESUS REPLIED:”LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND. THIS IS THE FIRST AND GREATEST COMMANDMENT. AND THE SECOND IS LIKE IT. “LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOUR AS YOURSELF.” ALL THE LAW AND ALL THE PROPHETS HANG ON THESE TWO COMMANDMENTS.
    MATHEW 22:37-40

    LOVE HAS NO BOUNDARIES

    • Yes love DOES have boundaries. Please take a moment to actually read the bible.

      When God’s wife – Israel – cheated on Him repeatedly, He divorced her. That was God having good boundaries.

      In addition when Jesus Christ spoke to His disciples on the sermon on the mount, He taught them many good boundaries, like if the people dont listen then move on and shake their dust from your feet. He also said to not throw your pearls before swine… its just a waste of your time and effort! He also said that when you go into a new town seek for a WORTHY place to stay and ONLY stay there. These are all good teachings on boundaries.

      As I said, please stop cherry picking the scriptures that you choose to believe. And even worse, stop teaching imbalanced and unbiblical nonsense to other people. Remember that teachers will be judged harder than others.

      This discussion is now ended. If you post the same nonsense again you will have the ignomy of being the first person to be banned from this site. The first person in almost 1 million visitors.

      That’s my boundary.

      God bless you, Mark.

    • The fact of the matter is that Jesus Christ and God and the prophets ALL had boundaries.

      Please update your theology to include ALL the relevant scriptures, not just the ones that you prefer to believe.

  15. “IF SOMEONE STRIKES YOU ON ONE CHEEK,TURN TO HIM THE OTHER ALSO. IF SOME ONE TAKES YOUR CLOAK,DO NOT STOP HIM FROM TAKING YOUR TUNIC.”
    LUKE 6:29

    “IF YOU LOVE THOSE WHO LOVE YOU ,WHAT CREDIT IS THAT TO YOU? EVEN SINNERS LOVE THOSE WHO LOVE THEM. AND IF DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO ARE GOOD TO YOU, WHAT CREDIT IS THAT TO YOU? EVEN SINNERS DO THAT. AND IF YOU LEND TO THOSE FROM WHOM YOU EXPECT REPAYMENT WHAT CREDIT IS THAT TO YOU? EVEN SINNERS LEND TO SINNERS,EXPECTING TO BE REPAID IN FULL. BUT LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, DO GOOD TO THEM, AND LEND TO THEM WITHOUT EXPECTING TO GET ANYTHING BACK.”
    LUKE 6:32-35

  16. WE ALL HAVE BOUNDARIES
    BUT GOD WANTS US TO OVERCOME OUR BOUNDARIES WHEN IT COMES TO LOVING OTHERS.
    IT IS GOD’S WILL THAT WE LOVE WITHOUT LIMITS
    FOR TRUE LOVE KNOWS NO BOUNDARIES.

    “IF YOU LOVE THOSE WHO LOVE YOU ,WHAT CREDIT IS THAT TO YOU? EVEN SINNERS LOVE THOSE WHO LOVE THEM. AND IF YOU DO GOOD TO THOSE WHO ARE GOOD TO YOU, WHAT CREDIT IS THAT TO YOU? EVEN SINNERS DO THAT. AND IF YOU LEND TO THOSE FROM WHOM YOU EXPECT REPAYMENT, WHAT CREDIT IS THAT TO YOU? EVEN SINNERS LEND TO SINNERS, EXPECTING TO BE REPAID IN FULL. BUT LOVE YOUR ENEMIES, DO GOOD TO THEM, LEND TO THEM WITHOUT EXPECTING TO GET ANYTHING BACK.
    LUKE 6:32 – 35

    WE CAN ONLY DO THIS BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.

    GOD BLESS
    john

    • Im sorry to be blunt, but thisis EXTREMELY bad advice. Jesus Christ taught that if you have TWO coats you give the one and you keep the other for youraelf. The point is this: we meet our own needs and we give out of the overflow. He did not ask us to give both coats and both shirts and sit with nothing for ourselves. But we are also not told to have more than we really need. Do we really need a big screen tv, or more than 1 tv?

      God bless you 🙂

  17. JESUS DID NOT SET BOUNDARIES. HE WAS LED BY THE SPIRIT.WE ARE CALLED TO FOLLOW IN HIS FOOTSTEPS. THE SPIRIT WILL TEACH US ALL THINGS. WHEN TO SAY YES – WHEN TO SAY NO. WE DO NOT NEED ANOTHER COUNCILLOR. WE ARE CALLED TO BREAK OUR BOUNDARIES. TO DIE TO SELF – PUT OTHERS BEFORE OURSELF – LOVE OUR ENEMIES – GIVE WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN – LOVE OUR NEIGHBOUR AS OURSELF. THESE ARE GOD’S BOUNDARIES. THERE IS NO PLACE FOR US TO DRAW THE LINE HERE. THIS IS SUPERNATURAL. THATS WHY GOD GAVE US HIS HOLY SPIRIT. WE ARE CALLED TO WALK IN AND BE LED BY THE SPIRIT. WE ARE NOT OF THE WORLD. WE ARE CALLED TO BE HOLY.

    • And for those who cannot yet hear the Holy Spirit and are subject to abuse… I suggest that they have the same boundaries in place that God had and Jesus Christ had.

      God also displayed good boundaries when He put away His wife because she cheated on Him and kept cheating on Him and refused to repent and change her ways. God displayed boundaries many times when He refused to listen or hear from us.

      Thank You Jesus Christ, thank You God, for showing us what good boundaries are like… so that we can follow in your footsteps.

  18. Where did Jesus spend his time on earth…? Thank God his boundaries were not prostitutes,weak of faith,those who denied him at the cricifixtion, a thief on a cross,and the prodigal son…..and thankfully me…..where would he go today?…..where the lost and hurting SINNERS were….WITHOUT BOUNDARIES…..your teaching is ME focused….and very very dangerous.

    • You are right Bill, Jesus Christ spent time with sinners – just like you and me. For God LOVED THE WORLD that while we were still SINNERS He sent His only begotten Son… etc.

      If you read my other posts you will know I agree with this.

      My post is about “boundaries”, it’s not about avoiding sinners! If you minister to hurt people you NEED to have boundaries in place.

      God bless you, Mark.

  19. Thank you Mark for your post on trust, boundaries, and assertivity. I was in a situation recently where I invited an old friend and her 15 year old son to live in mine and my husband’s home. We were enthusiastic to help them get on their feet. The agreement we had was for her to have a move out date so that our home was a temporary place for safety. But though she agreed to this it was not followed time and time again. She had a ton of excuses for not looking for a job or coming up with this date. I loved on her and her son and listened to her struggles. I worked with her on her struggles with time management and really tried to empower her. But, to no avail, I found that the excuses were too big for me (but not too big for God). A leader in my church advised that I send her to a homeless shelter. This was shocking to me. I had promised to give her 30 days notice, but the church leader said I wasn’t bound to my promise because she had not upheld her end of the bargain. I was terrified to carry out this, but I kept hearing again and again from others that this was the course I should take, because I was enabling my friend’s behavior. So, I wrote my friend a long letter. My husband and I decided to give it to her and ask her to go that night. We offered her $300 to stay in a hotel until her SSI check arrived. She would not go. We had to call the police. She told the police that she knew her rights and would not leave our home. The police said we had to get the legal documents and serve her with 30 days notice through the courts. At the courthouse we learned that we could file a domestic violence restraining order that encompassed a move out order within it. A judge granted this restraining order temporarily and the police came and removed her from our home. We had to go to court and a judge ruled in our favor for the restraining order to be in effect for 3 years. I have had much guilt over this entire scenario. Did I do the right thing? Did I do evil to her? Did I displease my LORD. Your blog was helpful to me today. Thank you. I know I did not do it perfectly, but my motive was to help and love my friend. God knows my heart. God has my friend and her son in His hands. He will provide for them where I could not. I love them and I pray for them daily.

    • Hi Julie

      Thank you for sharing your story. Pls dont feel guilt at standing up for yourself.

      And I hope that this bad experience doesnt deter you from helping people in future… dont stop loving, but DO put in place better safeguards and better boundaries so that this doesnt happen again.

      I always say… DONT think that when someone walks up the driveway and into your house that they will somehow leave their ISSUES at the roadside and not bring them into your house. They dont leave their issues outside… the issues come in with the people. Whatever emotional or psychological instabilities got them into the messy situation you find them in… those same emotional or psychological instabilities will be constantly at work in their life, it doesnt stop just because you are helping them.

      Im sorry… yes… there IS a cost to loving people. Jesus Christ told us to carry our cross… the cost of loving. BUT. Dont stop loving, but MAKE SURE you DO protect yourself more so that next time you can be very firm and clear about the boundaries from the word go.

      God bless you,
      Mark.

      • Dear Brother Mark Wilson you says ‘Jesus Christ told us to carry our cross…’
        This word is very clear word. I like to live that way… Thank you brother
        Brother this message (Walking In Jesus’ Footsteps) is very useful to us…
        GOD BLESS YOU Brother Thank you…

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