KNOWING YOUR LIMITS
What do we mean by limits? Physical limits are the point where we just can’t go on, where we have no more strength.
In the movie “Outlaw Josey Wells,” the star of the movie, Clint Eastwood, had this famous line, “A man has to know his limitations.” He was talking about physical limitations, but we also have spiritual limitations because we are human.
We all have our limits. They are all different, but we all have them. Sometimes we might be surprised by them, in ourselves or others. God however, does not have limits. Where we humans have our limits, God does not.
The limits we need to learn more about are our spiritual limits. We need to know what they are so that we can work on them and grow stronger spiritually.
Do you believe God’s word is true and that it is true for YOU? Are you willing to do some things in God’s service, but not others? Do you believe God is capable of helping you with everything, or just with some things?
There is no limit on what God CAN do. God’s influence in our lives, though, can be limited by our belief or trust (or the lack of them) in Him.
To get stronger physically, we have to push ourselves past the point where we are running out of strength. Where running a certain distance may be easy, but running farther begins to make your side hurt. You have to push yourself farther to grow stronger. Soon your side will no longer hurt and you will find it easy to run farther than you did before.
It’s the same thing with spiritual growth. Sometimes God pushes us to do things that are not very easy. Sometimes we need to do things for God that are out of our comfort zone so that we can grow stronger spiritually. Ie: God wants you to witness to everyone, but you are shy. God wants you to help your church but the only thing that needs to be done is to clean up messes. God wants you to love everyone, but it’s hard to love your enemies, or you are uncomfortable around people of different cultures or races.
Jesus dealt with some extremely limited people when He was here on earth. People who were taught to avoid people who were not their race. They were the Jews and Gentiles (non-Jewish).
The Bible calls Jewish people ‘the Chosen people of God.’ Jewish people were taught that non-Jewish people were spiritually unclean, polluted by false gods and sinful behavior, and that Jews should have nothing to do with them. Non-Jews were called “Gentiles” (anyone who was not a Jew). They were taught that the Jews hated them because the Jews thought they were better than them because the Jews were ‘the chosen people of God.’
To be a Jew you had to be born in a specific family line. A Jewish family line. In fact, most of the Jewish people, and non-Jews (Gentiles), hated each other. It was a mutual hatred that often bubbled up in violence between them.
Jesus was Jewish. He was born into a Jewish family, a descendant of the ancient King David, from the tribe of Judah, a descendant of Abraham, the father of the Jewish people. He grew up and was taught to observe rules that maintained the uniqueness of the Jewish people. Ie: Jews should only marry Jews. Jews should not have anything to do with Gentiles.
Well, guess what? God even required Jesus to do some things that were outside of the Jewish comfort zone.
When Jesus began his ministry, He challenged many of the traditional ways of understanding what it meant to be part of the people of God. For Jesus, being the people of God wasn’t about what family line you were born into.
Jesus knew that His life and death would place NO limitations on who could be saved by His upcoming death on the cross. Jesus, the Jew, came to save all mankind. Jews and Gentiles. Jesus was definitely out of the comfort zone. He loved everyone.
Being a Christian isn’t only about being around those you know and are comfortable with. Following Jesus means going where God leads you, and sometimes He leads us to places that are frighteningly out of our comfort zone.
In a scene from one of the C. S. Lewis books The Chronicles of Narnia. The Christ figure in these stories is a lion named Aslan, and when the children in the story first hear about Aslan, they’re afraid. They ask, “Is he safe?” The person telling them about the lion laughs, and says, “Safe?” Of course, he’s not safe. He’s a lion. But he’s good. He’s the Lord.”
Jesus is good. But following him is not always ‘safe’ or comfortable. We must have love for all people, even people who are different from us or people who we have been taught not to love. Jesus called this love for everyone, compassion.
Compassion means allowing our hearts (our feelings) to be open, taking the risk of being hurt, of being disappointed. Compassion means allowing ourselves to feel the feelings of others, placing ourselves in their shoes.
Compassion is dangerous, though. It is not safe. Why? Because if you open your heart, you may get hurt. You may be wounded. You may be disappointed. You may be taken advantage of.
Being a Christian is being a follower of Jesus. Jesus wasn’t comfortable, so you can expect that Jesus will lead you to the kinds of people and places that are out of your comfort limits, too.
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
Jesus is saying He is not limited. “All authority has been given to Me”. Jesus will lead you beyond your limits, too. In fact, following him will stretch you beyond your comfort and place you in situations that require the compassion of Christ.
When its uncomfortable, thankfully, we have Jesus’ promise, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
If you are not going beyond your comfort zone or opening your heart with compassion, it’s time to look at the spiritual limits you have.
How much of the love of Jesus do you have for others? Even people who are different from you? Do you love everyone enough to care about their salvation and whether or not they will go to heaven? Do you love them enough to be the one to tell them HOW to get to heaven?
Are you ready to give your limits to Jesus? Are you ready to go and love those as Jesus commanded? Are you ready to grow stronger spiritually?