The fifth chapter of the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend continues to unveil wisdom to benefit each of us over and over again.  This weeks law is not that impactful when you see the title “Evaluation”, but if you are like me, when we uncover this law of boundaries, it will change our view of life forever.

The section in chapter 5 (page 95) describes a man faced with a situation where he needs to confront a business partner about responsibilities that he wasn’t handling well. Regardless of our occupation or position, we have had situations in our life where we were also in need of honest talk. In this section, we learn about the difference of hurting and harming someone.

Explain the difference between hurting and harming someone.

Do you struggle with being honest with people when they might get their feelings hurt? Is there someone in your life that this sensitive situation happens most frequent?

It might Hurt

The thoughts of telling someone the truth can sometimes be paralyzing. Knowing deep down that something needs to be said, but we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. This even comes to challenging situations where we avoid doing what we need to do because the fear of consequences.  We can even deny self and not say something just to avoid the pain that we might face.

In Matthew, chapter 7, Jesus gives some wise counsel.

13“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. – Matthew 7:13-14 ESV

Jesus refers to following him in the tough situations as “the narrow gate”. It is always easier to travel through the “wide gate”, but the results are not desirable.

How do you relate the verses in Matthew chapter 7 to setting boundaries?

Can you share a time when you had good intentions, but your actions hurt someone that matters to you?

When has someone protected his or her boundaries and done something that hurt you? Did that action harm you?

The example drawn out in the chapter was the concept of a dentist visit.  There are not too many times when can think of getting dental work done that was pleasurable.  Getting a simple cavity filled can be painful and even cause anxiety.  The challenge can even be when a cavity is found, but we cannot feel it and it is not bothering us and the dentist wants to drill on us. We are told it has to be taken care of before it gets worse. Then many times we quickly “evaluate” the impact of the procedures. Is that pain and anxiety about to be experienced worth the avoidance of future pain?

What are some other examples you can think of that may first be painful, but in the long run is beneficial?

Hurts so Good

When the example of the dentist was used in the chapter, it really opened up some new ideas.  I began to think of some other situations in life where I have been hurt, but it was for my own good.  A few situations came to mind:

  • lifting weights or exercising and having pain, but it was for my good
  • being arrested and having to serve some time in jail
  • not having money given to me by a family member or friend when I needed it.

What are some other situations that you can reflect on where in the moment it really hurt, but in the long run it might have actually been the right thing?

Has God allowed you to hurt when he could have prevented it?

We cause pain by making choices that others do not like. We also cause pain by confronting people when they are wrong.  Paul teaches us in Ephesians that we need to be honest with one another about how we are hurt.

So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. – Ephesians 4:25 NLT

or as the Message translation depicts it:
What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. – Ephesians 4:25 MSG

How do you tend to respond when someone confronts you with truth about your wrong behavior?

How would you like to respond next time?

Unintentional Harm

We have discussed the idea of hurting somebody for good. Meaning a little pain now is actually better than hurt later.

Can you think of a situation where either you or someone else was harmed by something good? (not hurtful)

I know from personal experience I have harmed myself many, many times without thinking what I was doing. Some common events in my life that fit this category.

  • drank a lot of alcohol and was feeling good, then it transpired into many instances of pain and resentment.
  • I did not speak up about a situation because I did not want to hurt one’s feelings and later they had some real hard times that could have been different if I had spoken up

What are some things in your life that you either need to stop doing or begin doing to minimize your self-inflicting harm?


Action plan

Take this information we have learned this week and see if you can allow God to sanctify who you are.  Can you be more Christ like by being honest and loving to those in your life? Can you respect others boundaries and establish/maintain your own?  Use time this week to examine and understand when we are challenged, maybe even hurt, was it necessary and needed to make life better in the long run?