The Weekly Word - A Devotion for the Week of July 6
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Galatians 5:13-14
As Americans, we deeply value our freedom. The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence, which was ratified on July 4, 1776, claims liberty as a “certain inalienable right,” alongside life and the pursuit of happiness. The concept of freedom was one of America’s foundational principles from the very moment the United States was established as a nation.
Later, when the First Amendment of the Constitution was passed in 1791, the notion of our freedom again took center stage as we claimed the right of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom to peacefully assemble and freedom to petition the government.
As Americans, our freedom is intricately woven into who we are as individuals.
In his letter to the Galatians, however, Paul offers us a much different understanding of freedom – one that’s intended not just for our own individual benefit, but for the benefit of others as well. Paul’s sense of freedom is much bigger than any government, law, declaration or constitution can offer us, because his understanding of freedom has its foundation in Christ.
Paul turns our highly individualistic American notion of freedom on its head, reminding us that our freedom in Christ isn’t about what we can get, but about what we can give. Our freedom in Christ is not about how we can get ahead, but about how we can put others ahead of ourselves.
This week, as we celebrate our nation’s independence, let’s also remember Paul’s call to us 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 freedoms as an American, but I am even more 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.