The Liberty to Love

Posts regarding what God does for us are a blessing, but then comes along one like this related to what God wants us to do for Him and then it challenges us. “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” (Gal. 5:13) “Meism” is the mandate of the hour. Self-fulfillment, not self-denial, is the cry of the age. Christ said, “If any man will come after me let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

If you truly want to fulfill yourself lovingly, deny yourself and give yourself in service to others. Forget yourself and serve yourself into joy and fulfillment.

Self-restraint is a vital part of liberty. Every person has some restraints. They are typified by three dogs. One in a pen that restrains him. One is on a leash, that limits him. Another is controlled by his obedience to his master.

Only love expresses liberty in a way that enhances rather than destroys. Bible love has two distinct qualities. It has its origin in God,“ we love because He first loved us,” and it has its relationship with people, “beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Love isn’t a word to describe your feeling, it is not a technique by which you fulfill your need. It is not a pure abstract ideal on which you meditate. It is acting in response to God and in relation with people.

If we can’t see people in relationship with God, if God is not the lens through which we see others, then we can never freely love them. We will either want to get rid of them because they are in our way, or we will want to use them in order to get us on our way.

The Norwegian dramatist, Ibsen, tells the story of Peer Gynt going to a mental hospital. No one seemed crazy. Everyone talked sensibly and logically about their plans. He felt sure everyone was sane. In response to his inquiry, the doctor said, “They are mad. They talk very sensibly, I admit, but it is all about themselves. They are, in fact, most intelligently obsessed with self. It’s self-morning, noon, and night. We can’t get away from self here.” We must get away from self and along with the Lord often if we expect to live properly with one another.

Liberty without love resembles a blind person without a guide. In an interview in “Psychology Today,” Victor Frankl said, “I often tell my American audiences that freedom threatens to degenerate into mere arbitrariness unless it is lived in terms of responsibleness. That is why I recommend to you Americans that you should have a “Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast.” Apart from responsibility, liberty quickly disintegrates into anarchy such as described in Judges 21:25, “every man did what was right in his own eyes.”

The result of such unbridled liberty is described by Paul, “But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another.” (Gal. 5:15)

Because we have the right to do a thing does not mean it is the right thing to do.

That is our big challenge to start doing through Jesus today. Love one another. If you resolve to do it, be on the lookout for someone in your life who will make it hard to love them today.