Use Your Freedom Wisely

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When we abuse freedom, it is destroyed—and the community is destroyed along with it.

“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.” Galatians 5:13 (msg)

I went to a Christian college, where I encountered wonderful professors, interesting students and a type of legalism I had not experienced, up to that point. I grew up in a church that was truly a community— people conservative in their theology but fun to be with and intellectually stimulating.

My school had the intellectual part, the conservative-theology part and some fun people, but it also had rules that were strange to me. My parents had never objected to my going out dancing with friends, but for some reason I found myself at a college that didn’t allow dancing (and a whole list of other things).

They preached God’s unconditional love and grace, yet had rules that I chafed against—and some of which I did not keep. Perhaps I was trying to exercise some freedom, to test whether God really did love me unconditionally.

It took me a while to realize that true freedom means not living without rules, but living without regrets. Our culture tends to read this verse in Galatians and assume the “you” is singular. But the phrase “use your freedom to serve one another” points out that the “you” is plural. (A better rendering would be “y’all.”) Paul assumes his words will be read in community.

When we abuse freedom, it is destroyed. And the community is destroyed along with it. When we serve one another, freedom flourishes. And community flourishes.

FAITH STEP: Where are you most tempted to “do whatever you want”? What specific actions could you take to use your freedom to serve those in your community, your church or your family?

Written by Keri Wyatt Kent

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