Have you ever changed the rules to a game in order to win? Many of us alter previously understood parameters in our relationships to gain something. As a child, down a couple runs in our kickball game, we change the pre-agreed-upon number of innings, in order to have another shot at scoring. As a teen, we might want a later curfew, so we simply arrive later, without parental approval or communication. As an athlete, we dislike a rule on our team, so we break it, without consulting our coach. As a business owner, we desire a higher margin, so we take it as the dollars pass through our hands, without considering our vendor or customer. As a ministry volunteer, we grow weary of a longtime tradition at our church to forward a predetermined percentage of our budget to advance the cause of missions, so we arbitrarily change it, the first chance we get, without first consulting the elders as to why it was put in place.
King Solomon warned against moving the goalposts in the middle of the game in his fourth and tenth sayings of The Thirty Sayings of the Wise, especially when it involved resources. Saying Number Four can be remembered as the Sanctified Survey: “Do not move an ancient boundary stone set up by your ancestors” (Proverbs 22:28). Three thousand years ago, someone would move an ancient boundary stone in order to have more land, increasing their wealth and income. The same holds true today.
Surveys have landmarks, as do relationships. Still, we often justify changing the predetermined boundaries at the expense of our counterparts when it benefits us. We are even more prone to do so when we feel we can power up on a weaker opponent: “Do not move an ancient boundary stone or encroach on the fields of the fatherless, for their Defender is strong; he will take up their case against you” (Proverbs 23:10-11). We will actually feel the resistance of God when we attempt to take advantage of someone just because we can. Our Heavenly Father has instituted Lawful Landmarks, (Saying Number Ten), for our interactions with the people He has placed in our lives.
Are you changing the markers in a particular relationship? Perhaps you made a commitment to your spouse, but now you want to alter that promise. Maybe you have been operating under a particular understanding with a customer, vendor, or employee, and now you want to change the practice. You might be ready to quit your team, leave your family, switch companies, break a contract, or physically expand your property line at the expense of your neighbor. Stop and surrender your heart to God. He will renew your perspective to be like His, providing you the wisdom to navigate through your conflict to community.