USING OUR FREEDOM WISELY

As Americans this summer, we are enjoying celebrating the freedoms that we have. We remember our independence from Great Britain as this country was first formed and the Declaration of Independence was signed stating the 13 American colonies had severed political connection from its mother country on July 4, 1776. We also remember other significant dates, events and the many veterans who have bravely fought to give us and ensure our freedoms as Americans. Many of us sing songs and display the American flag as a reminder of this freedom. Freedoms such as freedom of the press…freedom of religion…freedom for all persons to enjoy equality…freedom of speech…freedom to bear arms…the freedom for persons to pursue their dreams and goals. The Declaration of Independence is really a statement that no one from the outside will impose their will or way on us anymore because we are a free people.

Likewise, the book of Galatians (actually a letter from the Apostle Paul to the churches in Galatia) is a declaration of sorts to all persons who have given their lives to follow Jesus Christ. Like many veterans before us, and those still defending our nation’s freedom today, Jesus came to set us free through His life, death and resurrection. Paul declares in this letter that they were free from the bondage of the law and sin. Many of the new followers of Jesus who were not Jewish were being told by those who were following Christ of a Jewish background, that they had to follow the Jewish laws and customs in addition to believing in Jesus as their Savior by faith. They were becoming focused upon and in bondage to their own performance. They were so busy checking their own “scorecard” that they were not focusing on Jesus anymore. They were in bondage because they never measured up – they never kept the law the way they needed to.

When we don’t measure up, what does this produce? It produces shame…guilt…hiding…insecurity.... It also produces feelings of being incompetent, inferior and a lack of hope for things to ever get better. Paul was reminding all of the Galatians – and us as well – keep your eyes on Jesus! He has fulfilled the law. Our salvation and relationship with God is based on us trusting what Christ has done for us rather than on our performance. Left to ourselves, we will always come up short of God’s standards. But God loves us not on the basis of our performance, but on the fact that He created us and loves us simply because of who we are.

Paul also reminds the Galatians that sin no longer is their master, but Christ. They didn’t need to live enslaved to sin because Christ had set them free.

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”

- Galatians 5:1

Jesus has bought a freedom over sin for us we could never gain on our own. But when we use that freedom to serve ourselves and indulge our own pleasures with disregard to others, we are really no longer free. When we misuse our freedom, sin begins to control our lives again, and sometimes to the point of destruction. When our freedom is misused and misplaced, we see things like drug addiction…alcoholism…sexual addiction…eating disorders…out-of-control spending…compulsive behaviors…suicidal behavior…spiritual chaos. This is why Paul wrote this:

“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather serve one another in love.”

- Galatians 5:13

If we are going to live the healthy lives that God has intended for us to live, then we need to recognize and celebrate the freedom that Christ has given us as His followers (remembering that it is He who has provided our freedom and salvation) and then use that freedom wisely by asking ourselves, “how can we serve and help others around us?” “How can we be a benefit to others?”

Thanks for joining me today…see you next time!

Bob Mlynek