We threw a “Freedom” themed birthday party for one of my dearest friends last night. She loves the 4th of July, and freedom is a constant topic of conversation between us, so it seemed only fitting to have another opportunity to wear red, white and blue, grill food, and celebrate the gift of freedom.
We take it for granted in our country all the time, the freedom that we are so fortunate to have. Freedom is one of those things that we often don’t think about until it is jeopardized. Until we are worried it might disappear.
This can be true in our spiritual lives as well. We can live chained to our sin, our past mistakes, our insecurity or comparison, and be completely unaware. Like when you carry a heavy load for a long time, and then finally set it down – you forget what it feels like to be free of the burden.
Galatians 5 holds one of my favorite verses: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”
So what does this really mean? What does living free really look like?
“It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don’t use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that’s how freedom grows. For everything we know about God’s Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That’s an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out – in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then?” Galatians 5:13-15, MSG
Side note: politics today, anyone? If we criticize and hate a certain politician because of the way that politician speaks/treats people, we are no better than said politician. (HUMBLING I KNOW.)
Even more importantly, our freedom is for a purpose. We aren’t just set free to do nothing. We are set free for freedom. We are set free to “serve one another in love.” That multiplies our freedom.
“My counsel is this: live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit.” Galatians 5:16, MSG
When we live freely, we are no longer held back by bondage of any kind, and are therefore more able to hear the Lord’s voice and obey His call. We are “animated and motivated by God’s Spirit.”
So here are a few things I think we should all ponder:
Your chains are not your story. What you have done in the past, or what has been done to you – those things don’t define you. They are a part of your story, but they are not who you are. Freedom defines you.
“Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” Galatians 5:25-26, MSG
We are set free from comparison. Free people don’t have to worry about their status. They are free – and that is all they need. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. How much time are we wasting living enslaved to comparison?
Free people see people as free. It’s almost as if our chains block our eyes. When we are freed, we can see clearly – that we are free, and that others can be free as well. We can see the bondage that others are in, and we can help them get out of it. Free people free people.
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard – things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people.” Galatians 5:22, MSG
Whatever we believe about ourselves, we will believe about others. If we are in bondage to something, we will bring others into that bondage. If we are free, we will walk each other into freedom. Hold to the conviction that a “basic holiness permeates things and people.” I don’t think it is an overstatement to say that this will change the world.
There is nothing that God wants more than for us to be free – it was His plan all along. We were never meant to be in bondage. We were never meant to live under the weight of sin and shame. We locked our own chains, and Jesus died and rose again to set us free. We do Him and ourselves a disservice by denying ourselves and others the freedom He sacrificed so much for. Live freely, friends!!