July 1, 2023

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”—Galatians 5:1 (NIV)


The joy of liberation on the face of a tiny tyke tottering along the sidewalk caught my attention as I pulled out of a parking lot. She was the epitome of the phrase foot loose and fancy free. The girl—who didn’t appear to be even two years old—scampered toward the busy intersection of the interstate only two blocks away. Yikes!

I bolted from my car and crossed the street. Nearing her, I asked, “Where is your mommy?” She pointed to a row of houses in the distance. I reached out my hand. “Let’s go find your momma.”

She wrapped her palm around my finger. “I bet your mommy is worried about you,” I said.

She didn’t reply, most likely because she had not yet developed the full capacity for conversation, so I tried to make do with my words, “You have pretty shoes.” She beamed down at her sparkly slip-ons.

When we came to an off street, I saw a woman shoot out of a house and tear off in the opposite direction of where the girl and I walked. Terror didn’t begin to describe the look on the woman’s face as she raced toward the Cowlitz River a few yards beyond the nearby dike.

I picked up my pace and yelled to get her attention. She wheeled around.

“Is that your mommy?” I asked. The toddler nodded.

Momma’s feet fairly flew over the block’s distance between her and her escapee child. The instant the woman reached us, she grabbed her daughter into a bear hug, breathless and unable to talk.

The little one’s freedom had come to an end—for that moment at least.

When I Was a Child

Years ago, my world was filled with freedom. Freedom to do whatever I wanted. (Although there was that time I refused to eat Mom’s homemade potato soup for supper and was not free to leave the table until my bowl was empty.)  But other than that, I could go pretty much go wherever I wanted in my village of 130 people. (Except that time I was forbidden to go to the store to spend my two pennies, which I didn’t quite understand because I often traipsed those few blocks by myself.) Hmm. Now that I think back on it I did have restrictions, which is a good thing, for without them I most undoubtedly would have become a wild child.

Your Freedoms

When you think about your freedoms—past and present—what comes to mind? Have you always felt free? Was there ever a time when you were denied freedom? Is it possible you were free yet didn’t know it, as was the case for slaves in Texas in 1865? Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation giving them their freedom two and a half years earlier, yet they didn’t know it and had continued living as slaves. All along they had something yet hadn’t accessed it because they hadn’t been informed.

Being in the Know is Crucial to Freedom

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul encouraged believers to “Stand firm and not be burdened by a yoke of “have-tos” and “do-nots.” He wrote, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.”

Unfortunately, many Christians today don’t fully understand and embrace that freedom and live under the chains of legalistic rules.

When I was a new follower of Christ, I heard a sermon on the need to arise at 5 a.m. and spend the first hour of my day in prayer. I was to do it on my knees because that humbled me before God. So, I adopted that approach to speaking with the Lord. Soon, however, I found normal conversations with my heavenly Father had lost their flowing intimacy and joy. Which is a perfect example of Galatians 5:7:  “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth?”

One might ask, “Isn’t obeying simply one more yoke?” In a worldly sense, possibly. But God’s precepts are designed to set us free and keep us from harm. Just as the foot-loose-and-fancy-free tot could have ended up in the hands of a predator or in the path of a car because she didn’t stay within her mother’s watchful care, so we run the risk of harm when we ignore God’s loving care.

David embraced this truth in Psalm 119:45:  “I will walk about in freedom, for I have sought out your precepts.”

Truth and Freedom

When truth and freedom take up residence within us, we can live unencumbered—no longer slaves to man’s judgmental constraints—or even our self-imposed limitations.

“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)

The truth Jesus referred to in this verse is that He is the Son of God who came to die for us and set us free from our sins. This doesn’t mean we no longer sin but at least now we are not shackled by it and know a better way.

What religious rules or preconceived ideas about God and the Bible keep you from being truly free in Christ?
How would you answer:  “Why is it ultimately freeing to obey God and His ways?”

Prayer:  Jesus thank you for the truth that has set me free to know You intimately. I pray that each reader be filled with your love and the liberation that comes with that. Bless each one with joy and peace beyond measure.

Thought For The Day:  “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”—2 Corinthians 3:17