For freedom, Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. Listen! I, Paul, am telling you that if you let yourselves be circumcised Christ will be of no benefit to you. (Galatians 5:1-2)
Christ has set us free from slavery. The specific slavery Paul’s talking about in today’s scripture is about believing that we must follow the laws to get right with God. Paul believes that any law, observance, or ritual (like circumcision) we do with the hope of getting right with God is captivity. Christ gave His life to set us free from the burden of thinking or acting like our getting right with God rests on us. Getting right with God isn’t something we do. Getting right with God is something Jesus has already done for us
Like some people in Galatia, we can trade the freedom Jesus offers for some form of slavery. We choose slavery because doing something to earn God’s grace is flattering. We like having to do something for God because we then can have some control.
What we find out, however, is that thinking we must do something to earn grace doesn’t lead to freedom but to bondage. Jesus gave His life to give us a new relationship with God. That new relationship comes only through grace. We nullify grace when we try to earn it. We can only accept and receive grace. Grace makes us free.
Let me share an image I once heard in a sermon. The preacher said Jesus came to set us free from the jail cells that we live in. He then said, “Even though Jesus has broken down the prison walls and shattered the prison cell locks, we can, sadly, refuse to walk out and be free. We’re comfortable and think we’re in control of our cells. But our cell is death. Go ahead; push on the door. You’ll see that it swings open. Be free by grace. Walk out with Jesus.”
I encourage us to live into Paul’s words: “For freedom, Christ has set us free.” When we accept His grace, we will be free from the prison cells of trying to earn what can only be received.
- Have you ever chosen the bondage of trying to earn grace rather than being free by simply accepting it? If so, how come? What does Jesus have to do to persuade you to accept the grace He offers?
- What prison cells hold you in bondage? How do you need the grace of Jesus to free you from your anger, resentment, envy, fear, or anything else that holds you captive?
- Although receiving grace is a free gift from Jesus, it’s also a costly gift to receive. It’s costly to our need to control and to our ego that wants everything to be all about us. Grace is all about Jesus. Are you willing to receive the costly gift of being free by grace?