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Today’s reading is from Galatians 5: 2-15:
2 Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 Once again I testify to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obliged to obey the entire law. 4 You who want to be justified by the law have cut yourselves off from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.
7 You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth? 8 Such persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. 9 A little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough. 10 I am confident about you in the Lord that you will not think otherwise. But whoever it is that is confusing you will pay the penalty. 11 But my friends, why am I still being persecuted if I am still preaching circumcision? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would castrate themselves!
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
Today hits a huge, huge, subject. Freedom. Paul today says that we have been set free. In fact, if you don’t believe how fired up Paul is about this freedom we have in Jesus and how we should not submit to the law anymore. Paul even has a creative way in verse 12 of telling people who rely upon circumcision how misguided that is. He tells us that the law is no value at this point, what matters is faith working through love. That is the correct understanding of holiness. Not a perfect keeping of the old covenant, but faith working itself out through love.
So, Paul says that we are free. We are free from the law. We are free from sin. We are free. But here is the thing that we NEED to understand. We are not free to do what we want. We are not free for self-indulgence. We are not free to live as we want to live, forgetting about each other.
No, that is not freedom. To live only for yourself, to live only for your wants, desires or your idea of freedom is to exchange one form of slavery for another. Instead of being a slave to the law, we become a slave to ourselves. If we live only for what we want to do, we are exchanging one form of slavery for another. Instead of being a slave to the law, we are a slave to ourselves.
Freedom, doing only what we want, is not freedom. It is just another form of slavery.
We are called, instead, to become slaves to each other. To place each other’s needs and desires ahead of our own. We are not free to do what we want. We are free to do what is right.
Let me say that again. We are not free to do what we want. We are free to do what is right. What is right? Well, the passage tells us right there. To love your neighbor as you you love yourself. That is what we are called to do, that is what faith working itself through love looks like.
That is what our freedom should produce. If our freedom produces selfishness, it is not freedom, it is slavery. True freedom produces loves.
And we see, if we choose to go down the path of living out our freedom only for ourselves, we will devour, consume, and be destroyed by each other.
We have been set free. How will we use that freedom today? To be a slave to each other or a slave to ourselves?
Monday we’ll look at Galatians 5: 16-21.
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