Four our struggles are not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12
Flesh and blood, that pretty much covers every other human being doesn’t it? Ephesians 6:12 makes it clear that our war is not with each other. Now don’t get me wrong, this verse does not say that everyone else is looking out for your best interest. In fact, I think we could all agree that our true enemy, Satan, is quite adept at using others to hurt us. So what are we to do with this? What does this verse really mean to us as it pertains to spiritual warfare?
Author John Phillips once said, “We must see beyond people. Satan may use people to persecute us, lie to us, cheat us, hurt us, or even kill us. But our real enemy lurks in the shadows of the unseen world, moving people like pawns on the chessboard of time. As long as we see people as enemies and wrestle against them, we will spend our strength in vain.”
In my own experience, I have given the enemy way to much ground in this area. I did this by having poor, inconsistent boundaries in my relationships. Often this lack of boundaries threw open the doors to my heart, giving the enemy full access to use others against me. At times, the results were excruciatingly painful not only to me, but to my family as well.
Years ago I read of a relationship model that had a huge impact on me. In this model a bulls-eye target was used to demonstrate how relationships would look for someone with healthy boundaries. Each ring of the target represented a different level of intimacy for the relationships within that ring. The closer to the bulls-eye, the closer, more intimate the relationship. For example, the center of the target, or bulls-eye, represented your relationship with God. The next ring was designated for your relationship with your spouse. The ring next to that was for family, and so on and so forth. The final, outside ring was reserved for people you really didn’t know too well, such as acquaintances you’ve met once or twice. You may stop to say hello and share some small talk, but you would not share any intimate, personal details with people in this position on the target.
People who have healthy boundaries keep their relationships within the correct order on the target. They know that the inner, closest relationships are reserved for a few. They also have no problem keeping relationships within the appropriate boundaries as demonstrated by the target. They don’t let their emotions move them to sharing details with others outside of their inner circle. They also realize that relationships should take time to develop and grow and that not every person they meet is going to be someone who will be safe for them. Time is a necessary component in this because it is only through spending time with others that you can learn the necessary details that reveal a person’s true character. Anyone can profess to be anything, but it’s through observing their behaviors over time that the true identity is revealed. This is crucial to embrace in today’s instant connections fostered by social media.
I am a very open person. I really don’t play games and I thrive on authenticity. These are great qualities in the setting of healthy boundaries. But before God over-hauled my relationship skills I was like a sitting duck on opening day! I would share my everything with anyone who took the time to listen. And more often than not, this had disastrous effects on my emotional life.
My prayer for you is that you will examine your own boundaries. My hope is that God will help you in your relationships as He has so faithfully done for me. This is of the utmost importance in the dangerous world we live in. If you do find some boundary work is in order, there are a wealth of resources available. One of the best resources I’ve found is the book “Boundaries” by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I have included links to this book and some other helpful resources on My Amazon Affiliate Links page for you. Feel free to check them out and please remember the bulls-eye! It’s the one sure way to discern who’s on your side!
Stay Safe and Glow On!