Welcome to “Word from The Center” MONDAY, a devotional word from the Center of our faith, Jesus Christ, with reflections on His Word. I’m Gregory Seltz. Today’s verses are Galatians 6:9-10 where the Bible says,
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. 10 Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
FREEDOM YEARNS TO BE SHARED!
In our country today, freedom has devolved into libertinism. We regularly hear thoughts like this: “I’m free to do whatever I want, whenever I want, with whomever I want, and no one can tell me ‘no’ but me.” Does that attitude sound familiar? It should, because many believe that’s what freedom entails. Sadly, they don’t realize such a view of freedom is actually a biblical definition of sin! The idolatry of self is the greatest rebellion against the God who created and redeemed us all. Bondage to our lusts and desires, even our emotions and faulty reason, stems from our brokenness before God. In the chapter before today’s reading, Galatians 5 reminds us that Jesus came to set us free to live freely and faithfully toward God and toward each other (see especially verses 1 and 13). The sacrificial actions of Christ Jesus, namely, His life, death, and resurrection, brings a freedom of faith into a believer’s life that changes everything. It creates a heart of gratitude that yearns not to selfishly indulge or hoard such freedom, but to share it on Christ’s terms with anyone and everyone.
The July 4th weekend reminded us that, even in this sinful world, “freedom is never free.” In a world that is captive to its sinful bondage, someone always has to pay the price for freedom. In preparation for this devotional word, I was reminded of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence and all that they risked to give civic freedom to people like us. Do you remember?
Even if they were victorious over the British, it would merely usher in years of hardship as a struggling nation. If they lost, they would surely lose their lives. In spite of that, for their freedom and the freedom of those who would come after them, they were willing to risk all. With their signature to the Declaration came this vow: “We mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” Reflect on that price with me for a minute.
In a broadcast on July 4th, 1974, Paul Harvey reminded us of the following:
- Carter Braxton, a wealthy planter and trader, after signing saw his ships swept from the seas and, to pay his debts, he lost his home and all of his property. He died in rags.
- Thomas McKean of Delaware was so harassed by the enemy that he was forced to move his family five times in five months. He served in Congress without pay, his family in poverty and in hiding.
- Thomas Nelson, Jr. of Virginia raised two million dollars on his own signature for provision for our allies, the French fleet. After the War he personally paid back the loans wiping out his entire estate; he was never reimbursed by his government. He died bankrupt.
- John Hart was driven from his wife’s bedside while she was dying; his thirteen children fled in all directions for their lives. His fields and gristmill were laid waste. For more than a year he lived in forests and caves, and returned home after the War to find his wife dead, his children gone, his properties gone. He died a few weeks later of exhaustion and a broken heart.
- Of the 56 signers of the Declaration, few survived for long. Five were captured by the British and tortured before they died. Twelve had their homes--from Rhode Island to Charleston--sacked and looted, occupied by the enemy or burned. Two of them lost their sons in the Army; one had two sons captured. Nine of the 56 died in the War from its hardships or from its more merciful bullets. They had learned that liberty is so much more important than security, for that they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. They fulfilled their pledge--they paid the price, and freedom was born.
Those people yearned for freedom to be sure. But they also yearned for such freedom to be shared and enjoyed by others as well. It’s hard to fathom such a willingness to risk so much so that others could be free. Yet, in a much more profound and impactful way, St. Paul reminds us,
While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).
The Founding Fathers of America yearned to share what freedom they could muster. It’s even more amazing to learn about what Jesus Christ was willing to sacrifice and to suffer so that we might have His freedom, life, and salvation as an everlasting gift. When it comes to freedom, I pray that you yearn for the freedom that comes from the person and work of Jesus Christ more than all other freedoms combined, because that freedom yearns to be received and yearns even more so to be shared. And that freedom changes everything!
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, thank You for the freedom that You earned for us. Let our hearts be so overflowing with thanksgiving that we are moved by Your love to share it with whomever You bring into our lives! Amen.