We hear a lot about Freedom. The human soul longs for it.
However, religion tends to squelch it, governments often oppress it, and individuals usually abuse it.
One of the themes of Christianity is the call to freedom. Jesus died and rose again to set people free from the shackles of religion, legalism, and self-imposed efforts to appease God. But as with any good thing, human beings have the tendency to misuse it.
In recent years, there has been a swing from the legalism of the past to a focus on our liberty in Christ. The swing was a good thing, but the abuses that come with it are not. They are nothing new; they're just reinvented for the 21st century.
Paul dealt with this very thing 2000 years ago when he wrote to Galatia, "You are called to freedom, but don't turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh. But through love, serve one another." He also warned us about defrauding. To defraud means to stir up desires in another that they cannot righteously fulfill.
In 2014, we face unprecedented opportunities to exercise freedoms that can defraud others, but the Biblical warning remains. We should evaluate our freedoms by asking ourselves, "How might my exercising my freedom impact a weaker brother?"
Several questions can help us determine whether we are selfishly flaunting our freedoms or humbly serving our world. We can ask ourselves:
- Might someone wonder at my choice of entertainment in light of what I say I stand for?
- Does my language indicate that my mouth is dedicated to the glory of God?
- Might this public downing of a couple of beers be a stumbling block for a new Christian in a 12-step program?
- If a teenager from church saw me emerging from this R-rated movie, might he justify seeing it himself?
- Will this picture I'm posting to Facebook distract from my life message?
- If Jesus was coming to spend the weekend with me, what would I change? Why?
While we are not responsible for the choices of others, we are called to voluntarily be our brother's keeper. As Christians, we are not here to please ourselves. We are here to bring glory and honor to God as we model the humility, love, and self-denial of our Lord. One sign of spiritual maturity is the desire to honestly evaluate our pet freedoms and how willingly we surrender those freedoms for the sake of the people Jesus loves.