GALATIANS 5:1; 13-15 – For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
THEME OF THE DAY. HOW TO ENJOY OUR FREEDOM IN CHRIST. One of my favorite authors and preachers is the 19th century man of God named J.C. Ryle. Anything he wrote, read. For parents, get his little booklet titled “The Duties of Parents.” It is pure gold if we want to learn how to raise Godly and Christ-centered children. Another thing about Ryle, he was a master at quotes. Here is one of my favorites and ties in with today’s nugget theme. Ryle wrote, “Go to the cross of Christ, all of you that want delivered from selfishness.”
If one wanted to simplify what is wrong with the world, it may be summarized by one word – selfishness. Just ponder for a moment what this sin does across a wide spectrum. Marriages go sour because of selfishness. Churches split over selfishness. By the way, few people leave churches over theological issues. Most leave because they didn’t like something and that points to self-satisfaction or selfishness – the opposite of what Jesus said is to characterize His people; self-denial. But continuing on to the damage selfishness causes. It wrecks friendships. It destroys families. It creates tension in workplaces. It leads to all forms of violence – emotional and physical. The list is long over what carnage selfishness leaves in its path, but ultimately, it was selfishness that brought Adam and Eve to the catastrophic decision to disobey God in the Garden of Eden. They wanted their will, not God’s, and when we peel back the layers on selfishness that is the core issue – selfishness is a strong desire and action to have our wills done. And to grasp how wicked this sin is, we need to look at the only cure for it.
We cannot be healed of this eternal disease by trying to forget ourselves and serve others. That might last for a short period of time, but it is like putting a band aid on a jugular wound. Nor may we break the chains of selfishness by personal resolve to put the interests of others ahead of our own. No, selfishness can only be cured by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why? Because selfishness is sin, and the only means of breaking sin’s bondage is the power of the Gospel. This is exactly what the Apostle Paul is telling us in today’s scripture – Christ has set us free from the sin of selfishness to the liberty or freedom of living selflessly. However, this is not “let go and let God.” The Apostle tells us we have two responsibilities to fulfill if we want to enjoy the freedom found in the Gospel; the freedom to know the joy of living selflessly, not selfishly.
First, realize the Gospel sets us free from sin, but not free from daily battles against sin – “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” Every day is a new day to walk in the freedom Christ grants us AND every day is a new day to fight for the freedom Christ grants us. We do that by daily, moment-by-moment “preaching the Gospel to ourselves” and that means a mind renewed to know, then act, as a bought people; no longer living for the pleasures of our selfish self. As we learn to do this, joy will explode in our hearts and lives. Self-denial always leads to holy happiness.
A second thing we must do to walk in Christ’s freedom is be intentional about loving God’s people. Look at ways, pray for ways, to tangibly love God’s people. To do so, puts a death to selfishness. Again, we read Paul’s words, “Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Our greatest joy comes from loving God and loving others. This is the whole of the Christian life and in doing so, we walk in freedom; a freedom from the ugly bondage of selfish living. May the Lord help us to embrace and then live the freedom we have in the Gospel; a freedom from the chains of selfish living.
PRAYER: “Father, make me to see that my life in Christ means my life is not to be lived for selfish purposes.”
QUOTE: “Christ has set us free from ourselves not to stay focused on ourselves.”
~~ By Pastor Jim Sole ~~
Reprinted with permission from Quidnessett Baptist Church, RI.