“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Galatians 5:13-14
Christian liberty and the extent to which we can express it is a matter of contention among many Christians. Some believe that Christians must avoid any resemblance to the world, while others feel free to do much or most of what the world does.
The problem on both sides of the argument is selfishness. Those who want to stand apart from the world usually struggle with pride. They are too arrogant to get down in the nitty gritty to minister and serve others. While those who feel more freedom to do as the world does, usually do so out of selfish indulgence. They use their Christian freedom as an excuse to push the boundaries of right and wrong.
Paul’s warning is applicable to both sides of the argument. Yes, we have been set free. But our freedom was given to us not so that we could go out and, as he writes in Romans, keep on sinning so that grace may increase. We were set free so that freely we could pour ourselves out for others. What we were bound to do by the Law in the Old Testament, we are free to do now. We can love our neighbors as ourselves, not out of fear of the law, but out of the freedom and love the cross gave us.
So, next time you’re debating how liberally to apply your Christian freedom, reorient your mindset and instead ask how liberally you can apply your freedom in the service and love of others, not yourself. When we freely love others as Christ has loved us, we are giving our neighbors a taste of the freedom that they can know in Jesus. Service, not indulgence, is the fulfillment of our Christian freedom.