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Freedom to Grow

GALATIANS_F.O.T.S

I remember the sense of freedom I experienced when I finally got my driver’s license at the age of 17. On my first day of driving on my own, I went to Alki Beach with my friends as we enjoyed the sun, sand, and waves. It was glorious!

When we think of freedom, we tend to have positive thoughts and feelings and in our cultural context freedom is valued, pursued, protected, enjoyed, and celebrated.

When Paul wrote his letter to the churches in Galatia, he encouraged his fellow believers regarding their freedom. The freedom he spoke of, however, is far superior than any other form of freedom we might enjoy. In Galatians 5:1 Paul wrote, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”

The freedom we have in Christ is the greatest freedom of all.  John Stott writes, “The Christian freedom he describes is freedom of conscience, freedom from the tyranny of the law, the dreadful struggle to keep the law, with a view to winning the favour of God. It is the freedom of acceptance with God and of access to God through Christ.”[1]

Because we are saved by grace through faith we are not meant to live under the burden of the law. We are not meant to live with the pressure of trying to justify ourselves before the Lord or prove that we have done enough. We are not meant to live with the fear that if I don’t do all the right things God will reject me.

Instead, we are to walk in the freedom that Christ has provided because he has paid it all! We can be certain that God has forgiven all our sins: past, present, and future. The freedom we have in Christ is not a freedom to live however we want but a freedom to live for the glory of God and the good of others without any need to prove or justify ourselves.

Therefore, we should not understand the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 as a burdensome list to be checked off to prove that we are good Christians. Rather, we should recognize that the Holy Spirit desires to produce this fruit in us for our good, the good of others and the glory of God. As we seek to grow in the fruit of the Spirit, we will have times when we stumble and fall short. But God’s grace is greater than our sins and failures and when we fall short, we do not lose God’s acceptance and favor. Indeed, we are free to live for his glory with no fear of judgment! By God’s grace, we will also have times of success where we will see evidence of Spiritual growth in our lives. Rather than downplaying the growth we see or taking credit for ourselves, let’s rejoice when we have success giving thanks and praise to the Lord for his kindness toward us.

As we seek to grow together in the fruit of the Spirit, let’s do so from a place of true freedom giving God the glory for the good work he is producing in us.

 

[1] Stott, J. R. W. (1986). The message of Galatians: Only one way (p. 132). Leicester, England; Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.