Freedom or Liberty

In 1 Corinthians 9 the Apostle Paul wrote, “Although I am a free man and not anyone’s slave, I have made myself a slave to everyone, in order to win more people.”
 
Thankfully, the battle was fought and won generations ago for our personal freedom.  At least here in America, people are free to choose their own path. 
But as Christians is that really true? 
As I considered the words “freedom” and liberty” I realized that there is a difference between the two meanings.
 
Liberty speaks of the legal or lawfully aspect of freedom.  While the word “freedom” speaks of the lack of obligations that one may or may not have holding them to a situation.  In other words, liberty is our lawful right to choose and freedom is a state of being without obligation to anyone.  Our own Declaration of Independence speaks of the “unalienable right of liberty” that was endowed to us by God, which is just another way of saying that we are at liberty, without the burden of law, to be free to choose what we do and how we do it.

The Apostle Paul said that he was “free from all men”, in other words, he was at liberty to do and go where he pleased, free of any entanglements, yet he said that he had “made himself a servant to all” and his purpose for this self-imposed servitude was to win more, that is, to win more people to Christ.  He recognized that it was because of the liberty that he had found in Christ that he could limit his own personal freedom by placing himself into the posture of a servant.

In 1 Corinthians 10 he wrote,  “Everything is permissible, ”but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible,” but not everything builds up.  No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person.”

I heard a story recently about a sports reporter who was doing a story on one particular baseball player, a Christian, who was standing strong in his faith even in the face of a lot of personal torment.  As the reporter was talking with this young man, one of the coaches happened by and when he overheard some of the conversation he spoke critically to the young player, telling him that instead of wasting time talking about church and the bible that he should be talking about the game that was just played.  As the coach walked off in a huff, the player, who happened to be an all-star pitcher said to the reporter, “I’m sorry about that.  He just doesn’t get it!”

The Apostle Paul “got it”!  He knew that by law he was at liberty do as he pleased, but he was by choice giving up his freedom in order to please God.

We all know that this world is filled with those who “don’t get it.”  Their lives are taken up with the efforts made to gain self-satisfaction, personal pleasure and the acclaim and praise that comes because of their own accomplishments.  They cannot see that Christians must do good but not for the same reasons.  Our best  efforts are made in order to please God.  Everything we do is for His glory, no matter how menial or how important in the eyes of the world.

In 1 Corinthians 9, Paul had stated emphatically that he was free.  “Am I not an apostle?”  “Have I not seen Jesus our Lord?”  “Are you not my work in the Lord?”  He said that we have the right to eat and drink, to marry, to work, to plant and to harvest.  But he said, “I have used none of these rights and I have not written this to make it happen that way for me.”  Paul knew he was a liberty and had the right to do whatever he wanted but he still said, “woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

We may not be called to be apostles, preachers or teachers but we still can choose to use our liberty in Christ, our freedom in Christ to live, move and exist (Acts 17), living in a way that is acceptable to God, a lifestyle that causes people to ask us about the hope that we have in Christ. (1 Peter 3)
Every day, those that we know and meet, walk in ways that please only themselves, thinking that the things of the world are so important.  Possessions, wealth, status, comfort and pleasure are the lures that the enemy uses to keep people from seeking God.

As Christians we know that “no soldier gets entangled in the concerns of civilian life” , but instead “seeks to please the recruiter.” (2 Timothy 2)
We must not allow the stuff that seems to ply us with it’s beauty to slow us down or move our feet from His Way.  Our purpose is to share the good news of Christ, to serve Him with all that He has given us, our talents and abilities and bring all of the glory, honor and praise to Him.

Remember what the Apostle John said, “And the world with its lust is passing away, but the one who does God’s will remains forever.” (1 John 2)

Father in heaven, Creator of all things, we pray that you will by Your Holy Spirit, give us the ability to see the difference between the things that will please You and the things we see that will please only ourselves.  We know that You prayed that we would not be taken out of the world but that You would protect us from the enemy that is in the world.  So we ask for that protection now as the world and all of its powers presses in on us and threatens us even as we work to take Your gospel to everyone we meet.  We know that You are the Almighty and we lay our lives at Your feet.  All glory and honor and praise to You in Jesus Name, Amen

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