Free!

Galatians 5:1 NIV  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Romans 8:21 NIV  . . . that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.

What do we give to the people around us?  Only what we have received.  Have we received the freedom – the glorious freedom – described in these verses?  As believers in Christ, you might be quick to reply, “Of course!”  My observation and my own experience give a very different answer.  It has nothing to do with whether Jesus Christ has given us this glorious freedom, for He has, but whether we have received it in its entirety.

Ephesians 2:8-9 NIV  8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

Oh, yes, we received the gift of eternal life, with the assurance of going to heaven.  This was by God’s grace in our hearts and faith to believe we couldn’t earn it no matter how much we tried.  Somewhere along the way, however, we missed the fullness of this Truth: this is also the only way we are to live our lives in Christ – by grace, through faith.  After salvation, we have worked very hard attempting to do enough or be good enough to deserve what He has already given us freely for this life.  In reality, we have allowed ourselves to be burdened again by a yoke of slavery to the law – we must work to be worthy.  This, my brothers and sisters, is not freedom, and definitely not glorious freedom!

When we live in Christ this way, it is also the way we live toward others, seeking to train them in our ways of the Lord.  But this isn’t what Jesus came to give.  He came to give absolute freedom in Him and in His finished work on the cross, including abundance of the grace of God for every need.  In turn, this freedom and grace is to be given to others who have not yet heard the gospel.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is good news – but so much better than what our lives have shown it to be to this point!  He came and gave His life, doing all the works and fulfilling all the requirements of the law, by the grace of God in Him, so that we could live in freedom from those requirements.  When we have a life-changing revelation of this Truth, the works we do in this complete and glorious freedom are done in response to His wonderful love and provision of grace – and with a desire to glorify Him and lead others to know Him this way, too.

Matthew 10:8 AMP  . . . Freely (without pay) you have received, freely (without charge) give.

May you be stirred to seek after His freedom beyond what you have known, so that this will be what you give to others – no strings attached!

Freely

Even though there’s always more to understand in the Bible, sometimes I just need the simplicity of it to wake me up; for example, when I read the story of Jesus sending out the twelve disciples in Matthew 10:5+.  Before He told them not to take any money or extra clothes with them, He said in verse 8, “Freely (without pay) you have received, freely (without charge) give.”  I was arrested by that simple statement.  You see, I needed to be reminded that I have not paid for the unconditional love that the Lord has lavished on me.  I have not paid for His mercy that is new every morning.  I have not paid for the complete forgiveness of all my sins – past, present, and future.  No, I have not paid for any of these things, and do not deserve them in the least, but I have freely received them as He has freely given them to me.

When I was brought to that place of remembrance and the resulting flood of thankfulness, I was moved out of the place of withholding unconditional love, mercy, and forgiveness from people who “didn’t deserve it,” right into the place of freely giving those things without expecting anything in return.  It took me out of the position of trying to judge in God’s place and put me into the position of beloved child of God who leaves the judging to Him.  In other words, it put me back into freedom! 

Boy, do I need to be reminded of this lesson repeatedly.  The only things Jesus wanted the disciples to take with them was what they had freely received, without pay.  It’s His desire for us, as well.  So, when you find yourself in my place, not wanting to forgive, walk in love, or give mercy, maybe you just need to remember one simple word . . . freely!  Let it set you free once again, so you can help set others free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free . . .  Galatians 5:1