Daily D – Galatians 5:13
For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. GALATIANS 5:13 (NLT)
2 Corinthians 3:17, 18 For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image.
“Freedom is a pretty good thing!” Annie shouts in Field of Dreams. “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means,” Inigo says in The Princess Bride.
Freedom is not the ability to do whatever you want. A dictionary definition may say freedom is the power or right to act, speak, or think without hindrance or restraint. However, there are always restraints and constraints in our lives. Self-control and social contracts keep us from limitless expression of hindrance-free living.
How should we more accurately define the idea of freedom, especially in light of our relationship with Jesus Christ? Good question! Paul in 2 Corinthians 3 and Galatians 5 gives us clear instruction.
In 2 Corinthians 3:17, 18, we are free to reflect the radiant goodness of our God. As B. B. McKinney’s old hymn says, “Let others see Jesus in you.”
Your life’s a book before their eyes,
They’re reading it thro’ and thro’
Say, does it point them to the skies,
Do others see Jesus in you?
This begs the question, “What will they see when they see Jesus in you?” Galatians 5:13 says they will see us serving others in love. Freedom is not freedom if we do not serve. Even Bob Dylan acknowledged this paradox when he sang,
You may be an ambassador to England or France
You may like to gamble, you might like to dance
You may be the heavyweight champion of the world
You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes
Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord
But you’re gonna have to serve somebody
Copyright © 1979 by Special Rider Music
Spiritual freedom empowers us to live like Jesus and to follow the Holy Spirit’s direction (v. 16). We are divinely enabled to make the kinds of choices that build up us and others. This freedom edifies. It does no harm. Freedom does not take or destroy what belongs to others. Freedom delivers us from the consequences of sinful choices.
Spiritual freedom produces characteristics in us which are likewise found in Jesus (vv. 22, 23). They are quite different from what sinful choices produce (vv. 19-21). We know we are living in the freedom of the Holy Spirit when we reflect more and more of Jesus. This means there is more, much more, love in our lives. It overflows in expressions of joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
This produces the kinds of lives we always dreamed possible. The more we allow the Holy Spirit to lead us, the more we follow his lead, the more pleasant and purposeful life is. We come to the place where we wholeheartedly endorse what Paul writes in verse 25: “Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives.” If there is one thing we can truly never get enough of, it is becoming all God wants us to be by following his lead in all things at all times.
Freedom is a pretty good thing when it is defined and practiced appropriately. How will you exercise your freedom today?
I will invite the Holy Spirit to lead me moment by moment, thought by thought, word by word.
Our Father, you give us the freedom to build better lives and a better world. Empower us by your Holy Spirit to exercise our freedom in loving service to others. Empower us to reflect your radiant goodness everywhere we go and in all we do. May others see Jesus in us. Amen.
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Jonah 4:2, 3 So he complained to the Lord about it: “Didn’t I say before I left home that you would do this, Lord? That is why I ran away to Tarshish! I knew that you are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. You are eager to turn back from destroying people. Just kill me now, Lord! I’d rather be dead than alive if what I predicted will not happen.”
Joel 2:12, 13 That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.”
Hosea 14:8, 9 “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.”