Freedom Through Grace: Serving, Not Selfish

freedom

For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” –Gal. 5:13

One of the biggest blessings in Christ is our freedom—our freedom from sin and fear because of Christ’s sacrifice.  We don’t have to worry about being “not good enough” because Christ covers our flaws.  The Galatians, though, were using their newfound freedom as an excuse to sin—they saw God’s grace as a perpetual “Get Out of Jail Free” card, a way to live worldly lives and consistently ask forgiveness rather than permission.  Paul’s admonition to the Galatians was the same as to the Romans: “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Rom. 6:1-2).  Paul’s meaning is clear: God’s grace is not an excuse to live worldly lives.  

We cannot accept the philosophy that we can live the way we want simply because God has freely given us His grace.  Instead, His grace should motivate us to live for Him, as the letter to Titus teaches us: “For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age” (Tit. 2:11-12).

What does that mean?  “Renouncing ungodliness and worldly passions” means that we can’t do some of the things we used to (Gal. 5:19-21), and maybe that we shouldn’t spend time with the same people we used to (1 Cor. 15:33).  We should honestly evaluate our lives to abandon sin.  Living “self-controlled, upright, and godly lives” means that we replace our previous choices and desires with godly ones.

Although we have to give up our old worldly lifestyles in order to serve God, the Bible does not leave us only a laundry list of “don’ts.” In addition to listing specific things not to do, it often provides specific things to replace them with.  Take Eph. 4:25-32 for example:

Eph. 4:25-32

Replace…

With…

Lying

Truth

Stealing

Hard Work

Corrupt Communication

Edifying Speech

Bitterness, wrath, anger, malice, etc.

Kindness, tender-heartedness, forgiveness

 

Or consider Tit. 2:11-12, as referenced earlier:

Tit. 2:11-12

Replace…

With…

Ungodliness

Self-control & uprightness

Worldly passions

Godliness

 

Now, take a look back at the first passage, Gal. 5:13.  How does the Bible suggest that we “do not use our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh?”  At the end of the verse, Paul instructs the Galatians, “through love serve one another.”  

Gal. 5:13

Use your freedom in Christ…

Not…

Instead…

As an opportunity for the flesh

By serving others in love

 

Paul considers our freedom in Christ an opportunity to deny our own fleshly passions and replace them with loving service to others. That is exactly how we should see our freedom from sin as well.  God’s grace provides us a beautiful freedom in Christ, and we should use it to serve God and serve others rather than ourselves, as Peter instructed: “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Pet. 2:16).

A Challenge to Serve:

As I studied this topic and found that we are to replace self-seeking choices with serving others, I decided to make a definite, active effort to serve rather than set a vague goal.  I resolved that each week for three weeks, I would seek out three specific opportunities to serve.  I didn’t set any parameters other than that the service be somewhat outside my normal routine.  My experience and what I learn will be included in my next post.  I would love for you to join me in the challenge!  Feel free to comment below and on my next post so we can keep each other accountable.

Aubrey Mackey
About Aubrey Mackey 24 Articles
Hey! I’m Aubrey Mackey. I’m currently a speech pathology grad student at Oklahoma State. Lord willing, I will someday work with kids who have speech and language disorders. My loves include porch swings, garden-fresh produce, dialects, and my church family. I also love to cook (especially experimenting to make healthy food that tastes great) and traveling—I’ve been to India, Australia, and several countries in Europe. I plan to blog about Biblical principles that are relevant in this crazy game of learning to be an adult. I hope you find my posts edifying and helpful in your walk with Christ!

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  1. The Interests of Others: What I Learned from Three Weeks of Service – KatharosNOW

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