“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.” Galatians 5:14
Not so long ago, I was stalked. It was a strange thing in my life to have a woman obsessed with merely talking to me. She had this idea in her head that somehow, I had a special anointing that was so powerful that the Holy Spirit would use me to speak to her in ways like no one else she knew. I would break down the Word, as I have plainly done in this blog, but she needed more.
It didn’t take me long to realize I needed to get away from her. I was legitimately scared. She would text in the middle of the night, all night long. She called and would cry and use every tactic known to the female gender to garner more attention. She tried to get me to go with her to dinner, the movies, anything. When I said no, that I did not want to misrepresent my Lord or myself in giving people opportunity to gossip after making decisions based upon assumptions based upon sight, she got upset at me and would try to argue her way into what she wanted using Christian principles.
One of the principles she argued is right here in this verse. She would often say that in Christ there is liberty, and that I shouldn’t worry about what other people think. She would use her liberty to tell me things I specifically told her I did not wish to discuss (like my childhood). She wanted to use her liberty to get me to do what she wanted me to do. It was apparent to me that she wanted me to be the husband figure in her life. That, I did not want. I told her plainly that she mistook liberty for license.
The apostle Paul says the same thing in this verse. When he says do not use liberty for an occasion to the flesh, that’s what he’s saying. He is saying that, though we are free from the bondage of sin, that does not give us the okay to go and do whatever we think is right. There is only One Who is right. Jesus Alone frees us. That being so, we must acknowledge that we may be free from sin, but we are beholden to Christ for that freedom. He did not give us a license to then do as we please. He said:
“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Matt 22:37-40
Paul reiterates this when speaking of liberty. So, then, if using liberty is serving one another in love, what does that look like? Well, Jesus humbled Himself to serve us. He became the lowliest, and demonstrated what true Lordship in love looks like. He sacrificed Himself for the salvation, sanctification, and glorification of the saints, who at that time were still sinners. Lordship and love look like self sacrifice. So, to serve one another in love is to be sacrificial.
Liberty means that we are no longer bound to our selfishness. Selfishness is the root cause of all sin. To look past our own desires and to honor our brothers and sisters, being humble and subservient with our lives toward theirs is what liberty looks like.
I learned a lot from that woman about the difference between liberty and license. I pray that God is moving mightily in her life and that she is growing to a better understanding of how Jesus was not forceful and that He never looked to His own needs or thoughts over the will of the Father. Even He asked the Father if there was another way, yet accepted the only way and went to the Cross. I pray she has learned to respect boundaries.
I know I personally have a long way to go, and a whole lot of growing still ahead of me. I know more than ever before that my needs, my wants, and my desires should never come before those of God, and they should always be respectful of the needs of others. I pray that the liberty from sin becomes more and more evident every day and that the Holy Spirit makes me ever more loving toward others and less selfish in my ways. Then, I will be exercising true liberty through Christ.