13 You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. 14 All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself [Leviticus 19:18]. 15 But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other!
16 I say be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires.
We typically define “freedom” as “the right to do what you want, make your own decisions, and express your own opinions,” or even “the ability to do what you want because you have no obligations or responsibilities.” * When the apostle Paul said the Galatian Christians were called to “freedom” (Greek eleutheria) he meant something very different—the right (and power) to do what God wants. “It is ironical that, having urged the Galatians not to become slaves to law, Paul should now encourage them to become slaves of one another, for that is what “serve” means….The Galatians are to be slaves of one another, though this slavery is not at all like the first. In fact—this is the paradox—it is the Christian form of being free.” ** The point of a deeply committed love relationship is to give each partner the God-given freedom to “serve each other through love.”
O Lord, you call me to true freedom: not following my own flawed, selfish impulses, but living guided by your presence and principles. I choose to trust you to shape and guide my life. Amen.
** James Montgomery Boice, comment on Galatians 5:13 in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Abridged: New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994, p. 738.
In this Scripture, we read that we were called to freedom. This is something that I have been thinking a lot about recently. I am a graduating high school senior, and I am going off to Nebraska Wesleyan University next year to study theatre and communication. I plan on becoming a pastor. Going to college is exciting because I finally will be free. But what is that going to be like? What is this freedom supposed to look like? Many college students spend their weekends partying or cramming for classes. But should we use freedom that way?
In these verses, we read that we are supposed to serve other people with our freedom. This was a radical thought back in the day because doing things like this was the equivalent of becoming someone's slave. But as Christians we are called to serve, we are called to love.
So your life is full of stress and craziness. You have your own metaphorical “Tests” to cram for, you are racked with anxiety. Well, the cure is right here, because serving other people isn’t just for them; it is also for you. Serving other people helps you feel better and fills you with love. This is why Paul wrote about it. He was not just saying that we are to do this out of love for others, but as a way to help fill ourselves with that very love. As you live your life, remember to do more than just cram for your tests, and don’t just party on the weekends--fill yourself with the love of giving. Be the light in the world and use your freedom to serve others.
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