It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1, NASB
Freedom and warfare seem contradictory in our minds. We think of freedom with peace, don’t we? But the truth is freedom has a steep price tag. Our American history shows us that.
The cross shows us that.
Freedom is a precarious position. It is coveted, and sometimes it is hated. Worse, sometimes it is taken for granted. Because of its cost, and of its fragile nature, freedom must be guarded if it is to be kept.
Christ died for the sinner so that they may be free from the bondage of sin. So that I may be free. And so I am. But because I am free I must be on guard. The emancipated sinner has been given armor in which to stand firm under the banner of Christ. Laziness is not endorsed. I cannot drive a stake in the ground and then dose away my life in frivolity. Jesus calls me to be alert, on guard, ready to defend His calling, to fight against the schemes of the devil.
What on earth (and beyond) does that mean?
It means that while I am part of a free nation (God’s Redeemed), I have been drafted into the army to protect that freedom. I must constantly do battle against my flesh and Satan himself to keep from falling back into sin’s slavery.
The thing is, my battle to maintain my freedom isn’t fought on a bloody field with deafening cannon fire. It’s fought silently, invisibly – in my mind. What I choose to think about shapes my attitude and determines my emotions. In turn, what I am feeling guides my actions. Thought leads to feeling, which leads to action.
For example, take a slight delivered by someone I love. I can choose to think “He/she was so inconsiderate! I can’t believe he/she did that to me.” That makes me feel bitter. Bitterness makes me speak sharply. Sharp speech starts a fight. The fight escalates. Yelling ensues. The silent treatment begins as we both harbor our hurts, building up cases against each other, taking into account all those wrongs suffered, choosing not to forgive. Sin. Slavery. There I am, under the yoke.
Or, consider that same slight delivered by someone I love. I can choose to think: “He/she made a mistake, and I’ve made plenty of those myself. If I’d done the same thing, I’d want forgiveness and grace. So, I’m not going to hold it against him/her. I’ll just forgive right now.” That makes me feel peaceful. Peacefulness makes me speak kindly. Kind speech builds up the relationship. There I am, dancing in freedom.
But it’s a battle to get there! The first choice – the one for bitterness — is what comes naturally to me. Only when I consciously make the Spirit-filled choice to fight for my freedom do I get to keep it. May I fight well in every area of my life, in every corner of my mind, this week.