You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. Galatians 5:13
Freedom means different things to different people. In my mind, it means to not be bogged down by any institution, whether family, job, or church. The word, freedom, is always at the forefront of my mind. The moment I have the slightest feeling of being trapped, I am ridden with anxiety. Why? I haven’t the slightest of ideas. What does freedom mean to you? Is it a precious commodity or do you not think much about it?
The Apostle Paul is preaching to the Galatians that they were called to Christ to be free, and not to take on ceremonial rituals, such as circumcision. Do we sometimes mix up our call to Christ as servitude to the establishment? When you add up the hours, days, weeks and months you have to spend at church, it’s like you wonder if choosing to follow Christ is worth all of that. It sounds downright depressing. Why would one want to surrender all that time, time they could be doing a million things, just to be at a church? Does our freedom in Christ mean that we can withdraw from coming to church some of those months? Paul, gives the answer to that question in the second part of his thoughts, “do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh.”
If we didn’t know that there is a law that governs the flesh, I am telling you right now. There is a law that governs the flesh, and it does not like the law of the Spirit. This is why we are always warring in our mind, because there is a fight between the flesh and the spirit. Most of us will always let the flesh win, and that’s too bad, because the flesh never makes good decisions. (Read this again). When you know you are supposed to exercise, does the flesh always get excited about the 30-minute jog or cardio that you planned? When you know you shouldn’t be eating brownies late at night, does the flesh always prompt you to abstain from them? Even for athletes, and I was one for a period of time, the flesh often sounds convincing. Every Saturday, I dreaded that 2-hour hill workout at 10am. I was on the track team, so I showed up every Saturday. Not because I always wanted to but because I knew it was something I chose, and I was committed to my team. During practise, my mind told me that my body can’t handle any more pressure. I literally had to beat my mind under subjection to what I wanted it to do. I must practise, whether it felt good or not. The flesh never makes good decision, ever.
The Apostle Paul wanted the Galatians to know that even though they are free in Christ, that freedom doesn’t stretch to making sinful decisions. When we do things through love, we do not feel like we are in servitude to any establishment. Paul says it beautifully, “serve one another humbly in love.” Parents, for the must part, do you feel like you are servants to your kids? Or do you happily make them breakfast, lunch, and dinner? Most of the times, you hardly get a thank you. But, when there is love, it changes everything. Love will make you stay up at night with a child who has a tummy ache. Likewise, love will make you stay at church, to counsel, to host, to train, to facilitate, or to serve. Suddenly, the hours, days, weeks and months at church, is so full of joy and fulfillment that we actually look forward to it. The point is we ought to exercise our freedom through love.
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Now, when I think about my freedom and I mix it with love, I am no longer riddled with anxiety, or a feeling that I am stuck. Rather, I am able to look through the lens of love and happily serve my family, serve my church, and serve at my workplace. It is not easy, however, since I am not intending to please my flesh, I will instead choose to rise to the occasion and show love. Because this is what I am made to do. I have learnt this, if I “…do not have love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:2. Therefore, be encouraged to serve one another humbly in love because this is the right thing to do.