Are You Free?

Galatians 5:13—“For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” 

How would you finish this sentence? 

If I want to be a really good Christian, I must…

How you finish that sentence is critical. Finish it incorrectly, as many people do, and you fall into the same trap of the ensnared first-century Christians in Galatia.

What does it mean to be called to freedom? Many wrongly define freedom. Some would say that I am free if no one hinders me or stops me from what I want to do. In other words, if I am not impeded from anything that I desire, I’m free. But is this really true?

Is this statement true on the lips of a crack-addict or a compulsive gambler? Is this statement true on the lips of a workaholic or a thief? I don’t think so! When the Word of God speaks of the believer being “called to freedom,” what does it mean? Mortimer J. Alter wrote a book entitled, The Idea of Freedom. In this book he traced the debate about freedom through centuries of human philosophy. Boiling it down, he said three viewpoints have prevailed among the philosophers of the world:

The first is that freedom is circumstantial: by this he meant that we are free as long as there is no state, institution, or dictator seeking to hinder us from doing what we want to do.

The second is that freedom is natural: this is the viewpoint of the founding document of our country, The Declaration of Independence.

The third is that freedom is acquired: this viewpoint suggests that freedom is inward, in that, if we have a change of mind and character that makes us feel free, then we are free.

Which view do you think best represents God’s viewpoint? Circumstantial, natural, or acquired?

The freedom that Jesus came to give us is not represented by the above three. The freedom believers are called to is a freedom from God’s wrath over us, Satan’s rule below us, and sin’s power within us—for Jesus said, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed(John 8:36).

Are you free?


Freedom and Faith

The phrase freedom, as it relates to faith, is a colloquial expression that I have found integral to my being a believer. A case in point: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal.5:1). This verse clearly illustrates this point. Though I am free in Christ, faith was an underlying condition by which freedom is manifested in my life on a consistent basis. In other words, without faith in Christ the freedom afforded to me through Him would not be an actuality.

Another parallel may be drawn from John 8:36, which states, “So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” While this biblical passage clearly outlines that one’s source of freedom is found in Christ, Romans 3:28 further solidifies the point “…that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law.” In actuality, one may ascertain that freedom in Christ, coupled with justification by faith, is genuinely innate—in that there’s a correlation between the freedom found in Christ and the faith that Christ supplies as one truly embraces Him. Again for me personally, I believe that the phrase freedom, as it relates to faith, is a pragmatic concept in that one is unable to differentiate between the two biblical principles. Needless to say, one must embrace both biblical principles simultaneously in order to acquire a proper perspective concerning freedom as it relates to faith.

Although faith is an intrinsic element of freedom, personally I struggle on a spiritual level to “not turn [my] freedom into an opportunity for the flesh…” (Gal.5:13). This struggle reveals itself occasionally in my resistance to serve others through the love of Christ. To remedy this issue, I have predetermined that I will love others unconditionally by withholding judgment of them and by allowing the Holy Spirit to guide me in the area of discernment as it pertains to them. By focusing upon the well-being of another, as opposed to myself, it compels me to direct my energies towards that person, thus averting an opportunity for me to indulge in fleshly appetites while simultaneously providing me with an occasion to serve someone else. Here again, faith is an essential component in which freedom in Christ is expressed in an unpretentious manner.

In conclusion, it should be clear that both freedom in Christ, along with faith in Christ, are essential to one another and that differentiating between these two biblical principles is inconceivable. Consequently, freedom as it relates to faith is an intricate expression of these two biblical fundamentals.

Is a Debt-Free Life for Today?

As a Christian have you ever thought, “Do I have the right to spend my money the way I would like to, or do I have to live the life of a miser?” Or have you thought to yourself, “Is it ok for me to have a lot of money?” As believers, we have trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation and surrendered our lives to the Lordship of Christ; do we then have freedom when it comes to our finances, or are we restricted to how we can use our money?

I think the best place to start when it comes to talking about money is to start with God. The Bible explains that the thing we consider valuable and a necessity for life (money) belongs to God. Haggai 2:8 says, “‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the Lord of hosts.” Since money belongs to God, it is neither good nor evil. What makes money a good thing or a bad thing is how money is used. For example, money is used for humanitarian causes—those are noble things; but it is also used to purchase drugs, which destroy lives and communities.

While God owns everything, He also knows that money is an important part of our lives, so He provides it to His people; that is to say that God is the one who gives a person the ability to gain wealth (Deut.8:18). So then, what comes to your mind when you hear the word “wealth”? Do you think about the person who has no need or want for anything and has more money than he or she could spend in a life time? You would not be wrong if that definition came to your mind; the word wealth does carry with it the idea of having an abundance of valuable resources or material possessions. However, I think a more biblical understanding of the word wealth carries the idea of having something as opposed to having nothing. I’ve heard it said that in comparison to the majority of the world’s population, Americans are some of the richest people. We also need to view money as a gift from God. We read in 1 Corinthians chapter 4, where the apostle Paul poses the question, “What do you have that you did not receive?” implying that all we have has been given to us as a gift, including the finances we possess.

So I think, according to God’s Word, it’s safe to say that we have the freedom to possess money. That leads to the question, then—does God prescribe or care about how we are to gain money, or are we free to gain wealth by any means necessary? Well, God has established that work would be the means whereby one would gain wealth (Gen.3:17; Prov.14:23). So when it comes to believers, we have the freedom to gain wealth through God’s prescribed means: hard work.

I also believe one of the clearest principles about financial freedom is seen in the book of Romans. In Romans 13:8 we read, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law.” Here we see the admonishment to be in debt to no one. However, I do think there is a difference between paying to own a home versus being over taken by debt to the point where you can’t make ends meet. When we are born again, we become a child of God, delivered from the bondage of sin and Satan. We are also indwelt by the Holy Spirit to live a life of freedom from the dominion and tyranny of sin. Therefore, we should not be a slave to anyone or anything (Prov.22:7). So why does God want His people to be free financially? I believe God desires His people to be able to freely respond to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to meet the needs of others when a need arises.

With all that said, I’m the first one to admit that I’m not the poster child of financial freedom; I confess that I was once in financial debt and owed money that kept me struggling to meet my financial obligations. But by God’s grace, I learned that financial freedom is possible, but for me and my wife it came at a sacrifice. By making tough decisions to go without luxuries for a period of time and by being disciplined in our financial spending, we have been able to experience the blessing of the freedom of owing only to love others.



Letting Go

Every Thursday on Facebook is “Throwback Thursday.” It’s a weekly movement for Facebook followers to reminisce in pictures about a particular time or event in the past. Often, you will find funny and cute school pictures and videos, impromptu family gatherings or “that picture” of yourself that you thought you had hidden away…until your mom posts it. Almost every week, I find myself sifting through the baby books and photos of my two children, now ages 28 and 26, hoping to find a picture of them or us to post. There are my favorites: the first day of school, vacations, and those cute baby pictures. It’s amazing how a picture can capture so many memories and fill my heart with so much emotion.

However, gone are the Legos, Barbies, and picture books. My children have grown up, moved out, and are now amazing adults pursuing careers and relationships. So, how does a parent let go and give them the freedom they need and crave? To parents who are watching their children sprout wings of independence, God gives strong direction followed by a powerful promise.

Strong Direction: our job as parents is to teach.

“Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut.11:18-19 NIV).

Followed by a promise: as we let go, we need to trust our children will hang on to God.

“Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it” (Prov.22:6 NLT).

Teach and then trust. Parenting is a divine partnership, with God as the controlling partner. Our acts of obedience to teach our kids merge powerfully with His promises to carry them through to the end. We need to trust God to finish the work He has begun in them. The work may not be evident immediately, and there will be bumps in the road, but teaching and then trusting helps this mommy’s heart to let go.