The Weekly Word - A Devotion for the Week of July 5
I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments. (Psalm 119:45)
At first glance, this verse from Psalm 119 might seem like a contradiction. After all, we might argue, isn’t the notion of freedom all about being unfettered, unconstrained and at liberty to do as we choose? How could devoting ourselves to a litany of rules possibly lead us to freedom?
As is often the case, however, God’s kingdom operates on a different plane. We were indeed called by God to be free, Paul reminds us, but we are not to use our freedom to “indulge the flesh.” Rather, Paul says, we are to use our freedom “to serve one another humbly in love.” (Galatians 5:13).
In other words, while our American notion of freedom emphasizes a focus on the individual, the Christian understanding of freedom emphasizes the exact opposite: selflessness, humility and a love for others. We honor our parents. We love our neighbor. We do not covet. We do not harm others. The path to true freedom is embedded in God’s commandments, which show us how to live as our best selves.
As we begin to loosen and release our grip on the things we once assumed would bring us freedom – wealth, material possessions, success, power, acclaim – we realize that true freedom comes not with the acquisition of more, bigger and better, but in the embrace of less, smaller and simpler. As we begin to turn away from our self-interested desires and turn toward serving and loving God and others, we find that true freedom is found exactly where we least expected.
This week, as we celebrate our nation’s independence, let us remember the psalmist’s call to live a selfless freedom focused not on our own self-indulgent pursuits, but rather, on serving one another humbly in love.
Gracious God, I am grateful for my freedom in You. Thank You for reminding me that my central calling as a Christian is to use my freedom to serve my neighbor rather than my own self. Amen.