The 5th Cookie ~ a Lesson in Boundaries

As my friend tells it, the whole ruckus started over the fifth cookie. We were at Mom’s Group, a small gathering of moms with young children, when her daughter begged for just one more cookie.

Unfortunately, she’d already eaten four others, and my friend was afraid that the preschooler might become physically ill if she ate any more. So, my friend said no like a good mom who is always looking out for her child’s well-being.

However, her daughter saw the “no” as coming from a mean mommy who wanted to limit her fun and pleasure. She wanted that fifth cookie, and she wanted it bad!  How could her mommy deny her such a good thing?

A loud power struggle ensued as my embarrassed friend removed her daughter from the room for some discipline.

When my friend recounted the incident later that day during our parenting class, I realized something important – sometimes I’m like the preschooler who wants the fifth cookie! 

We’ve talked before here in this space about how God creates boundaries for us because He loves us, not to keep us from experiencing pleasure or to deny all our wants.  He creates boundaries simply for our own protection, much like my friend, the loving mother.  She said no in order to protect her child, to keep her child from pain of a belly-ache, the harm of the consequence of over-indulging.

It's human nature to buck boundaries, test the limits,  but what if God's boundaries are really for our own benefit?  A look at why God's no is good for  us. Saying no to sin, God's boundaries for our benefit, christian women, christian living, weight loss journey, weight loss struggles, obeying God, the benefits of obeying God, devotional thought

In the same way, our Heavenly Father lays out boundaries in His word in order to protect us, to keep us from harmful consequences. I’d like to pretend that those boundaries are for really “serious” sins like murder, stealing, sexual immorality, idolatry, blasphemy, and so forth. But the truth is that the boundaries are for so-called “little” sins, too.

Even sins like over-eating.

Yes, sometimes I’m the preschooler who wants the fifth cookie, but the Holy Spirit tells me no. Then it’s my choice whether or not to heed that boundaries that the Father has put into place for my own protection.

You see, He knows the ultimate consequences of the fifth cookie – not just the extra weight, but the potential health risks that go along with it.  Even more, He knows what that lack of self-control says about the condition of my heart!

When I’m just dying for the fifth cookie, or the slice of pizza, or the brownie, or the glass of cherry coke, I’m allowing myself to be ruled by food, by pleasure. Our Father isn’t content that I should be a slave to food, nor to any other earthly thing (or person). He sent His one and only Son just for this – to set us free!

I long for this freedom, don’t you, my sisters in Christ?

I shared earlier this year about my one word – persevere. When I chose this word (or when it was chosen for me), I knew that one area in which I needed to persevere most was in this area of healthy eating and healthy living. I’ve bought into the lie that I cannot change these habits for too long now.

1 Cor. 10:13  No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful;he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.

The Father is setting new boundaries for me, and sometimes I don’t like it. Like the preschooler, I fight it.

I fight Him.

I justify that one more bite won’t hurt. One more cookie will be okay. Surely my Father wouldn’t deny me this simple pleasure, right?  After all, I have freedom in Christ for all things, yes?

Don’t fall for those lies, sister.

Don’t be Eve in the garden, taking just one bite of juicy, forbidden fruit!

That fifth cookie, that movie you're dying to see, that strong word bursting forth from your mouth, that stray thought, that questionable relationship, that extra sleep - whatever it is that keeps us from the abundant good God has planned for our lives quickly becomes slavery. His boundaries are better, friends. God's boundaries, sin, obeying God, why God's rules matter, christian living, christian women, abundant life, living God's way, the good life, devotional thought


If I’m crossing the boundary in having that fifth cookie (or third, or maybe even the very first one!), then I’m opening myself up to all of those consequences that He so desperately wants to keep me from. 

Maybe you don’t struggle with food, my sisters in Christ, but I’m sure you struggle with His boundaries in another area – loving others? obedience? abiding in Him? keeping your thoughts pure? respecting your husband? being patient with your children?  honoring Christ every day (not just on Sundays)?

That fifth cookie, that movie you’re dying to see, that strong word bursting forth from your mouth, that stray thought, that questionable relationship, that extra sleep – whatever it is that keeps us from the abundant good God has planned for our lives quickly becomes slavery. His boundaries are better, friends.

1 Cor. 10:23  “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial.“I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.

Whatever your struggle might be, recognize that our Father lays out your boundaries because He loves you, because He wishes to protect you from harm!  Remember that you have the power of Christ in you – the ability to overcome!

It's human nature to buck boundaries, test the limits,  but what if God's boundaries are really for our own benefit?  A look at why God's no is good for  us. Saying no to sin, God's boundaries for our benefit, christian women, christian living, weight loss journey, weight loss struggles, obeying God, the benefits of obeying God, devotional thought

I’m learning that this food battle is going to be just that – a real war. I need His strength to persevere. I need His will-power to say no to the fifth cookie, even if My Fitness Pal says I have still have calories left in the day. ;)

I must be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and rely on His leading moment by moment. One day at a time. That’s how I’ll persevere in this area of healthy living.

By His strength and grace alone!

Jen :)

Related articles:

Fat Girl Insecurities

Fighting Weight-loss Failure

Sharing with: Grace and Truth, Tell His Story, The Mommy Club, Wedded Wednesday, Fellowship Friday


  1. says

    Jen, such practical truth you have shared. Whenever God sets boundaries, Satan will always try to move the boundary marker. Always. I’m reminded of Psalm 16:6 ~ The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.

    When we stay within our boundaries, God has a delightful inheritance for us. When we seek, or when we allow Satan to move the boundaries, we lose or miss out on the inheritance that God intends to bless us.

  2. says

    Well, God certainly knew that I needed to “stumble” upon this post today. Thank you for your honesty and for bringing it straight to the heart of the matter. Either God comes first – or our desires. I so needed that reminder. I love your quote – He is protecting us from evil. He doesn’t want me to overeat because it isn’t good for my body. Not because He just likes to watch me suffer. And He is more than enough to fill us – if I let Him. Thanks so much. Visiting from Women of Wisdom.

    • says

      It might surprise you to know that each time someone comments on this post, it brings a much needed reminder to my heart, too, haha. God certainly knew what He was doing when He prompted these words here. ;) I love how succinctly you worded it – either God or self. It’s one or the other – no middle ground. Thanks for stopping by!
      Jen :)

      • Tina says

        I, too, was touched by this post and all comments. I have had to really pray before eating and ask the Holy Spirit is this fuel for my body? Is this pleasing to God? It is a struggle. Thank you for sharing

  3. says

    Your words are good “food for thought” – and I fight that 5th cookie – especially with food, too. Self discipline is often the hardest discipline! Standing with you to set healthy physical and spiritual boundaries!!!

    • says

      Hi, Maryleigh! :) So glad to hear you are standing with me! I agree, self-discipline is difficult. I know our Father will be faithful in continuing that work-in-progress within us!
      Jen :)

  4. Rebekah says

    I love this, Jen – so much good truth in your words here! I long for boundaries in life, but find myself always wanting to challenge the boundaries. Why?! Why can’t I just figure out how to stay within the confines that the Lord lovinginly sets for me? This definitely keeps me trusting Jesus! Thanks, friend!

    • says

      Haha, why? Because it’s human nature, more specifically, sin nature to want to push those boundaries. We don’t like being bossed around! ;) It really does come back to trusting Him – that if He sets a boundary, it is only for our our benefit. Love you, friend!
      Jen :)

  5. says

    Great analogy, Jen. I admit, I am very much like that toddler…I not only want it, but I don’t even ask. I just take it, and take my punishment later when I can’t fit into my clothes. Then that becomes another issue…sigh.

    • says

      Mary, what an excellent point – we often don’t even ask. Ughhh, I’m definitely guilty of that at times. I love what you said, too, about taking the punishment. We have a child who had the same mindset as a todler. Disobedience was worth the punishment to him because he got his own way. Hmm, I’m going to be thinking on that one! Thanks for the great insight.
      Jen :)

  6. says

    Persevere is a great word. One I definitely need to work on in my food struggles too. Thanks for a great #equippingwomen post. Have a great weekend, Kim Stewart

  7. Christa says

    How wonderfully written is this and exactly what I was looking for! I have struggled with food for as long as I can remember and up until 2 years ago I thought it was a battle I had to endure on my own until I knew God could help me with that too and that I could do it to glorify Him. And I did, I lost 83 pounds of a 115 weight loss goal and every time anyone would comment on it, I would give God the glory until I didn’t anymore. I began to lose sight of Who was the reason I lost the weight in the first place and began to take the glory for myself. Well needless to say that didn’t last very long and I gained back 20 pounds. It has taken that to teach me that although I had given most of my weight struggles to God I hadn’t fully given it to Him and God has been working on me and showed me how to completely use His grace to finish this journey. On top of that as way of using boundaries with me, I have come to realize a digestive condition that I have suffered from for my whole life but because I was willing to be sick and overeat I hadn’t even realized how sick I really was. He has laid this boundary on me to not only teach me yet again how to completely rely on Him and Him alone, but also How to completely hand Him my eating. I think deep down I knew that was the case but reading your post definitely proved to me that is what He is doing. We serve a wonderful God who only has our best interest at heart, how awesome is that! :)

    • says

      Christa, thank you for sharing this testimony here! It’s a good warning for me, as well, to keep leaving this issue in the Father’s hand. Sometimes I’m like the toddler who gives you a toy and then wants to take it away again. I give an issue to the Father, but then try to resume control of it. :) It’s another work-in-progress area for me. I really appreciate your words here (they got lost for a while in wordpress, sorry!).
      Jen :)

  8. says

    Thank you for posting on this. I have spent the better part of the last 6 months facing pain and brokenness in my heart that was directing my life. Better yet, God has been working in my heart and has been chiseling away and molding me. He has been releasing me from bondage of worthlessness, shame and codependence. He has been showing me that He alone can love me perfectly, HE alone can set me free, He alone can satisfy.
    But…the food battle.. I was tempted to minimize it. But it is what I am tackling now, with His help and provision. The role food played in my life was multi faceted. It was love, nurturing, comfort, safety, and control, all rolled into one. Now, that my friend, is called a STRONGHOLD.
    The lie was, similar to how you put it : “YOU CAN HAVE THIS, You’ve had a ROUGH few days (weeks, months, years) you’re working so hard, etc. etc.” But in the lie is a FAKE promise, a FAKE hope, a FAKE love. A love that destroys, a misplaced hope, an already broken promise.
    As soon as I take that bite, I KNOW I am not going to find what I need. As soon as I indulge, I know I am in bondage again. It is definitely a journey, and as you said AN ALL OUT WAR. I am sure the food thing is not the same for all of us who struggle, but for ME, it is very much a matter of the HEART. Am I using this food to numb the pain? Am I using food to be LESS alive to what my true reality is? WHERE is my hope? WHERE is my faith? WHERE is my love? Will I trust HIm? Will I walk away from ALL idols? Will I step out in Faith and risk being vulnerable, alone, and hungry? Hungry with desire for fulfillment, for love, for nurturing? Will I risk DEPENDING only on Him? It’s not really about the cookie, we all know that. The Lord looks at the heart.
    Thank you again for posting on this subject and sharing candidly, in order to encourage your sisters.

    • says

      Hi, Laura! :) I appreciate you sharing so honestly here. I love this best “It’s not really about the cookie.” So true! I’m so glad you stopped by here.
      Jen :)

  9. says

    Talk about good timing! ; ) I’m reading blogs as I eat lunch today- and I grabbed a couple of cookies to finish off my lunch right before I opened up this post. Needless to say, I won’t be going back for anymore (even though I want to). You’re right. We can be all be just like that little girl. God places limits on us because he loves us

  10. says

    Great post! Definitely challenging and can be applied to so many areas. I can definitely relate. Seemingly simple choices can say a lot about self-control and our heart!

    • says

      Oh man, Stefani, I can definitely relate! In fact, the Lord continues to bring these words back to my own attention as a little nudge. Funny how He does that, isn’t it? ;)


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