As we find ourselves in the wake of the Fourth of July, our minds may go to the gift of freedom we enjoy in our nation. But sometimes we misunderstand the spiritual nature of this gift. There are ways that we spend our freedom so that we have less of it than we did before. Listen to Paul’s thoughts on this subject.
“I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but I will not be mastered by anything. 13You say, “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food, and God will destroy them both.” The body, however, is not meant for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.” (1 Co 6:12-13 NIV)
I’m always helped by these little lines when it comes to the exercise of my freedoms. How do I decide how best to exercise my freedom?
1. My “rights” are not always my “goods.” I may feel the right to do many things, but not everything I can do benefits me or others. Some of my freedoms, misused, are actually detrimental and destructive. Rather than a focus on freedom, I’m invited to a focus on what is good. Not just “rights” but righteousness.
2. My “freedoms” are not always free. There are ways to exercise my freedom that keep me free (or even make me more free). There are also ways of exercising my freedoms that diminish them. There is a way to invest freedom well just as surely is to spend it wastefully. What I invest grows. What I spend leaves. The ways I eat, express my sexuality, or relate to possessions may keep me free or may enslave me. So it’s not about being free to do whatever I want, but it’s about freely choosing what is truly freeing.
3. What I take into myself can build me up and leave me with only temporary pleasure. Not everything I can do with my body is therefore appropriate or good. Current ability or capacity does not equal lasting good. I can learn to appraise my choices and actions by the measure of the eternal rather than the temporary.
Reflection: Where are you investing freedom and seeing it grow? Where are you spending freedom and seeing it diminish?