2003-07-04 - Freedom
When I began writing this devotional about freedom, I wanted to entitle it something related to prepositions, but I was concerned that only "grammar geeks" such as myself would read it! We who are Christians have some amazing freedoms, and we who are Americans are blessed with additional ones. But the prepositions "from" and "to" are vital to our Christian walk.
Galations 6:13 (NASB) For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
God gives us freedom FROM eternal death, and at the same time, freedom TO live eternally with Him. But sometimes our concepts of eternal life are limited. Some of us believe that eternal life begins after our death, but in reality it has already begun, in our relationship with God. Are you basking in the glow of the close relationship you can have with God, living "to the max," that eternal life every day?
God gives us freedom FROM the enslavement of sin, but also the freedom and responsibility TO serve one another in love. When you think about your family members, coworkers or friends, do you usually think in terms of what they are doing for you (or not), or do you try to think of ways to serve them? It can revolutionize your relationships to live them out the way God intended, and can bring you immense joy, not to mention wonderful relationships.
God gives us freedom FROM man-made rules that are not in the Bible but rather are just a preference ("we shouldn't sing that kind of music in church; we shouldn't celebrate that holiday; women shouldn't wear pants etc.). But at the same time, He expects us to exercise our freedom TO use this as an opportunity to show our love for our sisters and brothers who are not yet at that free place in their faith walk. Those of us who are, need to be considerate - and not flaunt it or argue, neither of which are edifying.
As Americans, we are blessed with freedom OF religion, but we also have the freedom TO live that out - again, considerately. Sharing our faith once with our family and friends is a loving thing to do. But "evangelizing them" over and over, when someone isn't ready to hear it - that's not the considerate, godly thing to do. That usually backfires, and rather than drawing people TO our Lord, leads them away FROM Him. And I speak from my own experience as well as others; in my eager Christian "youth," I harped on my faith constantly and alienated people.
We have the freedom TO believe what we feel is right, about social issues etc. But we also should exercise our freedom FROM the urge to judge people who disagree with us; that's not our job. I don't know about you, but I relish that freedom. I don't WANT that ulcer-producing and bitterness-encouraging job! And we should express our beliefs gently and lovingly, not in a contentious, "in your face" manner. As Paul reminds us, we should, "as much as lies in us, live peaceably with everyone." Of course this doesn't mean compromising our beliefs; those are not synonymous. It simply means treating people with love, respect and consideration.
We have the freedom to follow the Spirit's leading in anything that is not explicitly mentioned in the Bible, but we also need to respect others' freedom - and in fact, responsibility - to do the same thing, even if they feel led differently than we do.
This is not exhaustive; we have more freedoms than I could ever mention here. But the bottom line with them all, is that we need to be responsible stewards of the freedoms with which our Lord has graced us. To our American readers, I hope you have a peace- and grace-filled 4th of July! To our French readers - in advance, I want to wish you a Happy Bastille Day!