Because of Christ we are free. We are free from the bondage of sin. As Galatians 5 states: “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery” (v. 1 NIV).
Earlier in his letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul noted that there were false believers who came to spy on the freedom that they had because they wanted to make them slaves again. They wanted to bring them back into bondage. How could they bring them to bondage? The law.
There is grace. There is law. Because of God’s grace, we do not have to focus on the law. We are justified through Christ. “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God… I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (2:19, 21 NIV). Don’t allow someone to make you a slave again. Do not set aside the grace of God.
“This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.” – Galatians 2:4 [NIV]
I have found that in the past few weeks my patience has continued to be tested. Many people will agree that it is no fun to be driving and have a car pull out in front and not drive the speed limit. Long lines with a tight schedule can bring about anxiety and frustration. I know there are many times I could be more patient.
I could not imagine being as patient as Joseph was during his time as a slave and prisoner. When you read Genesis, it is difficult to grasp the time Joseph spent as a slave and the time he was falsely imprisoned. We read a few pages—but those pages are thirteen years. He was sold into slavery when he was seventeen; he became 2nd in command when he was thirty. Thirteen years is a long time.
What keeps someone going for thirteen years? We read again and again that the Lord was with Joseph during these dark moments. Just the same, the Lord is with us. We can’t grasp God’s timing. Whether our darker moments in life are days or years, we can trust one thing—God is with us and He is for us.
“But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31 [NLT]
Many people can remember Lot’s wife getting turned into a pillar of salt in Genesis 19, as God was destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. We cannot only consider Lot’s wife looking back, showing that she could not leave her sin behind. We also need to note the hesitation of Lot. He was commanded to leave with his daughters, but verse 16 notes that he hesitated, causing the angels to grab him.
Lot was not jumping for joy to leave Sodom—the angels grabbed him and took him from Sodom. He hesitated. He considered what he would be losing by leaving Sodom. He considered if he should go or stay. We do the same thing at times when we are living in sin. We consider if we really need to give up certain sin. We hesitate.
Today if there is something that God is trying to weed out of your life, don’t turn around, don’t hesitate. God knows what is best for you. Trust Him and walk forward with confidence.
“Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living.” – Romans 6:16 [NLT]
I recently began reading the Gospel of Mark for my own personal studies. There is a word that is repeated over and over again in the first chapter, a word that continues throughout the book. The word is “immediately” and if my math is correct, it occurs ten times in the first chapter alone. Immediately when Jesus is being baptized, the Spirit descended upon Him. Immediately He went into the wilderness. Immediately Simon Peter and Andrew left their lives as they knew them. Immediately the leprosy left the leper. Again and again the word is used.
We see so many things happening at immediately, not waiting for conditions to be different. The Book of Mark shows us that there is a sense of urgency. We only have so much time and so we must start now. Yet for many of us, when we are called by God to do something, we do not act immediately. Sometimes we do not act at all. We say we are waiting to do it when we have extra time. We say we are holding off till we have the money to start giving. We promise to start doing something when we feel better. We insist when our situations and conditions of life improve, we will start working for the Kingdom.
God never said that He had certain conditions to be met before we could start serving, giving, and loving. He calls you as you are and works with you as only He can. When we give excuses and do not act immediately, we are basically saying that our God is not big enough to use someone who has some issues that need fixed or some imperfect situations that need work. And yet, the Word of God again and again tells us otherwise. God used a slave, a shepherd boy, a fisherman, a peasant girl, a prostitute, a tax collector, a farmer, the son of a prostitute, a murderer, an adulterer, and even a persecutor of those who followed Jesus.
Today, if you are avoiding something, pushing it off till things get better, understand that God can still use you now. All you need to do is to show up. He will do the rest.
“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”
– Romans 8:28 [NLT]
I took my children for a walk today and came upon a goose with a broken wing. All the other geese were separated from this one goose, taking residence in the distance. This one goose was all alone, a prisoner so it seemed. Like our sins weigh us down, so this goose was stuck, unable to fly.
I continued walking around the lake and when I finished my stroll for the day, I came upon that goose once again. To my surprise, he had walked all the way from the one side of the park to the other. He was about to attempt entering the lake so he could rejoin his fellow geese.
When he walked across the ice that had formed upon the top layer of the lake, the ice cracked just enough and he fell through into the water. He was stuck, surrounded by ice. I stood by watching his struggle, hoping that he would overcome this sudden obstacle. It took numerous tries and many pauses in between, but the goose was able to rejoin the others. He was no longer a slave.
This goose reminded me of the common belief that was held in the past, that illness was due to sin. Job’s friends were very quick to point the finger. This goose was separated just like we sometimes separate from our fellow man when they need us most. Rather than being supportive, we point fingers. Rather than joining together to help, we turn and abandon. Even worse, at times we add to the burden.
But God has better plans. He did not allow Job’s friends to have the final answer. He also did not sit by and allow us to stay stuck in the ice, unable to move from our sin. We were separated, but He provided a bridge. We were slaves to our sins, but He has set us free.
That goose did not deserve to be abandoned by his fellow geese. No human deserves to be abandoned or mistreated by another. God has set us free. Galatians 5:1 states: “Christ has liberated us into freedom. Therefore stand firm and don’t submit again to a yoke of slavery” (HCSB). We are free thanks to the blood of Christ.
When a fellow man is struggling, we must remember that Paul left us an important message: “faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6). We need not abandon. We need not mistreat, “but through love serve one another” (5:13b NASB). Each one of us has been that goose with the broken wing. Let us serve each other in love!