July 2 - 8, 2007
For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters. Do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another.
--Galatians 5:1, 13-14
Stewardship of Our Freedom
Liberty is on our minds this week as we observe the birthday of America. July 4 we declared ourselves free from an oppressive monarchy and parliament that imposed their own will upon the American colonies. Liberty is one of the American ideals -- so much so that it is printed on our coins (along with "In God We Trust") as potent reminder.
In this past week's lectionary reading, Paul also talks of liberty -- the spiritual freedom we have as members of the body of Christ. But Paul sees trouble in the Christian community in Galatia. Some people are abusing their freedom -- using it as an opportunity for self-indulgence. In other words, they see their freedom in Christ as something that is purely for their own pleasure and interests.
It's a misuse, says Paul, because Christ has freed us from the law in order that we may enjoy closer walks of faith with God, using our relationship in the Spirit to avoid sin, live in continual repentance and dependence on God. The fruits of such a life in the spirit, Paul says in verses 22-23, are peace, joy and love, etc. Our freedom from sin and death is a gift, and like all gifts from God we are expected to exercise good stewardship -- wise use.
This also applies to our civic freedoms that we remember on July 4. We have freedom of religion, but do we exercise it vigorously -- inviting our neighbors to church and evangelizing? We have freedom of speech, but how many of us use it to stay informed of issues facing our world and nation, and then engage in robust public debates? We have the world's most free economic system, but how many problems stem from using it for our personal gain at the expense of others?
Paul tells the Galatians that they are spiritually free people, but through love they should become "slaves to one another." Our freedom's best use comes through our serving our neighbors, watching over the interests of our neighbors.
In the same way, perhaps the best use of our civic freedoms are when we see them in light of our neighbors' interests. We best safeguard and celebrate our own freedom of religion, speech and economics when we secure them for others as well.
-Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster
Reprint rights gladly given to congregations for nonprofit use. Just include this notice: "Copyright (c) 2007, the Rev. Robert Blezard, archive.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by permission.
New This Week:
Diagnostic: Am I Discipling My Givers?
Stewardship Bible Study: Seven Scripture Passages
Faith & Positive Thinking