For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. (Galatians 5:13)
God gives us freedom abundantly. We often think of freedom as our rights, but the freedom that God gives is more like a territory. Consider the attitudes toward freedoms in the following verses.
Now his older son was in the field, and when he came and approached the house, he heard music and dancing. And he summoned one of the servants and began inquiring what these things could be. And he said to him, “Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has received him back safe and sound.” But he became angry and was not willing to go in; and his father came out and began pleading with him. But he answered and said to his father, “Look! For so many years I have been serving you and I have never neglected a command of yours; and yet you have never given me a young goat, so that I might celebrate with my friends; but when this son of yours came, who has devoured your wealth with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.” And he said to him, “Son, you have always been with me, and all that is mine is yours. But we had to celebrate and rejoice, for this brother of yours was dead and has begun to live, and was lost and has been found.” (Luke 15:25-32)
His younger brother wanted his share of the inheritance. After his father gave it to him, he left home and squandered it, while the older son stayed home and fulfilled the expected role of a son. But when the younger brother came home, the father treated him with much love, celebrating his return. And the older brother wasn’t happy about it.
We can cry “no fair” when we feel we’ve done the right thing then see someone else being treated abundantly well, because we think everyone should get what they deserve. We think it’s tied into behavior and that we have a right as a response to what we’ve done or haven’t done, but that’s not how inheritance works. We don’t earn it. It’s given because of the person giving it not because of ourselves. Inheritance and freedom are intricately tied in God’s will. Our inheritance from God is freedom. And both come with responsibility.
Several things can happen when we try to live by our own claims on freedom and boundaries instead of God’s. We can build ourselves a small space within the large space we’ve inherited and we never step on every inch intended for us. We might pay more attention to what we don’t have than what we do. We think the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. We may become territorial, believing where we go and what we have is more about ourselves than about our responsibility to the one who gave us the inheritance.
Freedom isn’t what we have access to but what we do with that access. For example, because God gives us a freedom from ambition, we’re free to serve with a joyful heart. Because God gives us freedom from selfishness, we’re free from irritation. Because God gives us freedom from jealousy, we’re free to rejoice in the good of another. Because God gives us freedom from expectations, we’re to enjoy whatever He provides. Because God gives us freedom, we will see the Kingdom of God.
If you define your freedom or inheritance on your own, you’ll misuse it and miss out on many blessings God wants to give you. God has given the freedom and inheritance to you. He knows it best. And He’ll guide you every step throughout it and every moment you live within it. You need to simply ask, trust, and respond in obedience.
Dear God, I praise You for who You are. I can get so caught up in what I think is my own life and my own wants and needs, and I can even twist it somehow to make it seem to me that I’m not making it about me. But it often is. Challenge me to take my eyes off of myself and my condition and look to you. I don’t want to compare myself to anyone else, because I can too easily fall into the “I’ve got it better than” or “I’ve got it worse than” trap. It’s not about my own assessment. It’s about Yours. And I know You have responsibilities for me to live out loud so that others experience Your love. I trust You, and I rely fully on You.