October 21, 2020
Dear Praying Believers,
Thank you for receiving this devotional and reminder to pray for our prodigals and for revival. It is our desire that from our hearts there will rise a united cry that will touch the heart of God and move His hand in power. The devotional is a small attempt to help align ourselves with the truth of Scripture, to keep us near to God’s heart as available instruments in His hand.
To live in the freedom that Christ has purchased is a very important matter. Galatians five starts with a command, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). And the reason comes out in the next verse, “I, Paul, tell you: If you think there is benefit in circumcision and Jewish regulations, then you’re acting as though Jesus the Anointed One is not enough” (Gal. 5:2 TPT). This is serious! To return to the old way of thinking/living with rules and regulations is to say that Christ is not enough. To live this way would be a total disgrace and dishonor to the One who did so much to deliver us from this.
So what does our freedom look like? How should we live so as not to disgrace our Lord and Savior? In past devotionals, we have considered four ways from the earlier chapters; then in chapter five, Paul reminds us that true freedom is to live lovingly.
This is how Paul describes it, “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” (Gal. 5:13-15). We are presented with two vastly different ways of living — to love or to devour! If we are going to live in love we must understand the nature of what our freedom in Christ really is.
Firstly, let’s not forget that true freedom is a divine call. Paul said, “For you were called to freedom, brothers.” God lives and dwells in the realm of freedom. He breathes the air of freedom and in grace He has called us from our bondage, our chains, our labor and turmoil, to enjoy freedom with Him.
It was a sacred call that we should never take for granted. Like the slogan written across the Korean War Veterans' Memorial reminds us, “Freedom is not free.” We cherish our free countries because there was a time when others died so that we could live freely. Likewise, we treasure our freedom in Christ because His blood was shed for us! We love Him for it!
Secondly, true freedom is not a license to sin. Some misguided people have thought that freedom is the ability to do whatever we want without restriction. I believe this describes chaos, not freedom. Paul says, “Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh.” This is the opposite of what false teachers were pushing. They were holding up the rules as the way to God. Our natural tendency, after being delivered from that bondage is to let the pendulum swing too far in the other direction — from legalism to license! Both are a form of bondage that must be guarded against.
Thirdly, true freedom is to serve one another with love. “Through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'” (Gal. 5:13-14).
The kingdom is full of servants, all kinds of them. We are all servants. The emphasis here is not so much on the servant or even the service being done, but on how it is done. How we serve is just as, if not more important than the service itself. The language in our text is, “Serve with love.” To be forthright, there are many ways to serve. You can serve with joy, with resentment, with carefulness, with a smile, or with anger. You can serve with purpose, with carelessness, with gratitude, with fanfare, with humility, or with pride. You can serve with hatred, with tenderness, with patience, with exasperation, with quietness, or with grace. The list goes on and on as to how you can serve. Here in Galatians five, God asks us to serve with love.
What does that look like? Maybe a few examples would help. Serving with love looks like taking the time to make a phone call to a lonely saint. It looks like a sister eagerly praying with other sisters even though she has a million things on her to-do list. It looks like an elder pouring over the Scriptures to provide food for God’s people. It looks like a young man helping an elderly person with their groceries. It looks like a parent holding a disappointed child. Again, the list is endless.
Serving with love not only brings blessing to the recipient, but it brings honor to our God. Farther down the chapter it says, “The fruit of the Spirit is love” (Gal. 5:22). To serve with love is to bear fruit for our God. “But the fruit produced by the Holy Spirit within you is divine love in all its varied expressions: joy that overflows, peace that subdues, patience that endures, kindness in action, a life full of virtue, faith that prevails, gentleness of heart, and strength of spirit. Never set the law above these qualities, for they are meant to be limitless” (Gal. 5:22-23 TPT).
May God enable us to live in true freedom, for His glory!
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel