Today's Lectionary Text
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
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 and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit.
What?!?! I have to give up sorcery?!?!? All joking aside, I have to tell you that I love the placement on the calendar for this passage of scripture, as we are gearing up for our Independence Day celebrations here in the United States. The value we place on liberty is grand and contagious. People flock to this country from all over the world for the promise of freedom and opportunity that cannot be found anywhere else.
We declared our independence in 1776, and fought to earn it for 13 years. After we were granted our liberty and land, however, the colonies immediately began to fight amongst themselves over many things, including interstate commerce, currency exchange rates, and perhaps most perplexing of all, slavery. Here were people who had fought hard and sacrificed much to gain their freedom who were now in disagreement over whether to grant freedom to others.
Christians of today need to take particular care not to emulate this hypocrisy. We are granted freedom from sin through Christ our Savior. Does that mean we no longer sin? Of course not; try as we might we are still in a sinning state. It does mean that we no longer MUST sin. We have been granted freedom from sin’s dominion. No matter what kind of sin you used to be a slave to, no matter the magnitude or frequency of your sin, by repentance and faith in Christ you are forgiven. Even where sin is great, God’s grace is greater.
The problem is when Christians misinterpret that last sentence and think that they should sin all the more so that grace may abound. Knowing that your sins are forgiven is not permission to sin. Being free from the slavery of sin requires you to accept a new master, namely Jesus, as your King. If you live for Jesus you will be guided by the Holy Spirit, and that is when your actions will bear the good fruits of the faith and bring joy to the world around you. That is when you will have no choice but to love others how you love yourself.
Coffeyville Trinity UMC
*Devotion originally published 6/30/2019
Prayer for Reflection
Our Father in Heaven,
We are so amazed by Your grand design for the path to freedom laid out for us all. How humbled and grateful we are that You, who by all rights could find us so insignificant, love us so much that You would give Your only Son to free us from our sin. Help us to share this love with our neighbors, in hopes that they can experience this life, and afterlife, changing design for themselves. In Jesus’ name we pray. AMEN
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