“For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” - Nelson Mandela
I hope you all have or had a great day celebrating America’s Independence and the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this country. We are so blessed to live in America. We have freedoms and opportunities that many nations do not. As imperfect as it is, there is nowhere in the world that I would rather live than in America. I grew up in a military family and we celebrated it proudly. Fourth of July parades were a big part of my childhood. When I was nine I can remember decorating my bike with streamers, crepe paper, and baseball playing cards clipped to the frame so that it made a ‘motor’ sound when the spokes on the wheels flipped over the cards as I rode in the parade. A couple of years later, I marched in the parades as a boy scout. As we marched, we chanted. “We are the scouts from Region Four you hear so much about, the people stop and stare at us whenever we go out.” (Sometime we would say, “swear at us” instead of stare at us, just to be funny). A little later on, I played the trumpet in the Jr. High School band that marched in the parade. I was never very good, but I was proud to march and celebrate all of the freedoms we are provided and experience.
There is little we should value more than the ability to act freely. Freedom, what a grand and glorious thought. Some people are enslaved and don’t know it and others are free and don’t know it. Freedom is a gift and a blessing from God and it is at the center of the gospel. Through Christ we have been set free from the penalty of sin and death.
For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God, in his grace, freely makes us right in his sight. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood.” (Romans 3:23-25 – NLT)
“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.” (Galatian 5:13 - NLT)
Sadly, too many people do not feel free. They feel trapped. Feelings and reality are two very different things that don’t always agree. If we know Jesus, we know the truth, and if we know the truth, it will set us free. If we are free to do whatever we want, then the only question we need to answer is, “What do we want?” Paul’s answer is that we should not be enslaved to serving our personal sinful nature, but instead we should serve one another. Jesus once told His followers that if they would lay down their lives, they would find life. But if they tried to save their life they would in fact lose it. What I have seen increasingly is that people believe that they should be serving themselves and in doing so they become less and less satisfied with life and they become more and more selfish. Simply put, we cannot make ourselves happy. BUT, we can make someone else happy. Some years ago a good friend told me that, “Selfish people eventually end up alone and lonely.” I know that that is true.
I want to encourage you to take your freedom and use it to bless someone. Use your freedom to serve someone in love. You will be amazed at how good it makes them feel and you will be equally amazed at how good it makes you feel.
We have been set free for a purpose.