I drove across town for a free cup of coffee. A new convenience store opened up and they are offering free coffee for a few days, along with lots of other promotions such as $1 worth of free gas, which is about three tablespoons. I figure if I drive a few miles to get the free coffee but use the squirt of free gas, I’m still ahead. I simply cannot turn down anything free. Except puppies and kittens.
Last week I extolled the word “eat” and savored the fact that God said to Adam, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden…” (Gen. 2:16) Free to eat!
But there’s a “but”. Verse 17 goes on to say, “…but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”
Freedom often works like that.
There is plenty of room for a wide variety of expression and purposeful action — in-between the guardrails of God’s wise boundaries. In Psalm 119:45, David reveled in the freedom of walking in wide spaces while at the same time celebrating the commandments that limited his liberty to do whatever he pleased.
Paul had to set the churches in Galatia straight on this.
“You were called to be free.
But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature;
rather, serve one another in love.” (Gal. 5:13)
Did you see that “but”? It’s a big one.
One more time:
“My friends, you were chosen to be free.
So don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want.
Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love.”
(Contemporary English Version)
We are supposed to use our freedom to do the loving thing for others,
which may mean setting aside our individual desires for a season.
We are free to choose to yield our rights.
We are free to be selfless.
I don’t love doing Bible study on Zoom, or worshiping with a video on Facebook, or not hugging my grands. I don’t enjoy wearing a face mask at the grocery store, or postponing our family reunion, or singing Happy Birthday on FaceTime. I’m sad that I can’t gather with my church family on Sunday mornings. I grieve the loss of grad parties and weddings, Tommy Bartlett’s Water Show and baseball.
I miss going wherever I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want.
This pandemic is limiting me like never before.
I don’t like these constraints.
I want my freedom back.
What if the most loving thing I can do right now is to set aside what I want?
What if I serve you best right now by yielding my rights?
What if this is opportunity, not oppression?
“If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
My favorite word in the Bible that starts with “F” is FREE.