Fruitful: Using Freedom Wisely

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I promise that we are going to get into the Fruit of the Spirit, but first I want to go through a few foundational things. Galatians 5 is an incredible chapter that is filled with wisdom and challenging truth. When you have a moment, I highly encourage you to read through the whole chapter. Sit with it, and see what God wants to say to you through Paul’s encouragement to the Galatian church.

As we’ve already discussed, we all bear fruit, it’s just a matter of what type of fruit we are bearing. Our beliefs will always determine our behavior. And our actions, speech, and decisions will always reveal what we believe.

In Galatians 5, Paul makes it painfully clear that our fruit always has relational effects. If we are being led by the flesh, then we are going to live in a way that negatively impacts our relationships. If we are living by the Spirit, then our actions should positively impact our relationships.

“For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.” Galatians 5:13-15 (ESV)

In this passage, Paul makes a clear distinction between the flesh and the Spirit.

When we’re led by the Spirit we:

  • Use our freedom well
  • We serve one another
  • We love one another

When we’re led by the flesh we:

  • Squander our freedom
  • We serve ourselves
  • We tear down one another

One of the reasons why I had to step back from social media recently was because I saw Galatians 5:15 happening so clearly in front of me. Instead of being a place of faith, hope, and love, so much of our posting online has become about fighting and tearing each other down. It’s easy to write a post or a tweet that hurts someone else. Because we have access to so much right now, it can be a struggle to use our freedom well.

When I look at my life, I’m heartbroken at the times when I haven’t used my freedom well. I am saddened by the moments I squandered my freedom, using my position to serve myself and tear others down. Yet, there is grace for me. When I humble myself before God, he extends freedom and healing to me. I am so grateful that he doesn’t give up on us when we misuse our freedom. Instead, he continues to draw us in close. When we deserve judgment and punishment, he gives us mercy instead.

As I look around the church today, I wonder if part of the reason why so many of us struggle to be merciful to others is because we don’t understand the immense grace of God for ourselves. Since we don’t always take the time to honestly examine ourselves, we don’t grasp the gravity of what Jesus has done for us.

I hope this month we have the courage to make an honest examination of our own hearts and lives. I pray that we run to God for him to heal and restore us. He doesn’t shame us or condemn us when we mess up, but he welcomes us back to him.

“Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”” 1 Peter 5:5 (ESV)

Let’s come humbly to God and receive his immense grace.

Have there been times when you haven’t used your freedom well? 

How can you share the grace of God with others today? 

To go Deeper: Read Characteristics of the Kingdom: Just, Err on the Side of Grace

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