“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
Galatians 5:13 NIV
I know without question, God unconditionally loves us. Remember Summer Bible Camp singing, ‘Jesus Loves Me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…’, what I didn’t know as a child was, God always blesses us, but wants it to be an interactive experience, hence the blessing is accompanied by ‘instructions for proper use’.
Most of the time, we receive the blessing, forge ahead and later ask, why is the blessing less than I expected? We see the blessing in its fullest. We acknowledge the blessing. We do not follow the instructions associated with the blessing.
If we unpack the scripture, we read:
- We are called to be free.
- We should not indulge our freedom in the flesh.
- We should humble ourselves.
- We should serve one another in love.
The Instructions Mean:
1. We know we are called to be free and received Jesus as our Lord and Savior on our own recognizance, we were not forced to ‘saved’, it was our own passion to desire more of God, we chose to be saved. We think this gives us a license that emboldens us. Spiritually we are emboldened and equate it to its root, to encourage. In the flesh we are not emboldened, we translate the term as, empowered, generated by self-endowed, blazon, and self-righteous attitudes.
2. We know we should not indulge in our freedom through self-indulgence, yet becoming emboldened we forget it is not our own doing, but a gift from God, and is intended to be used to serve others, not ourselves.
3. We know we should be humble, but instead, we insert ourselves as the subject of the equation. This means we omit our Lord as the subject, rather giving ourselves the credit. Being humble takes practice and requires honesty to give credit where it is due.
4. We know we should serve one another in Love. Loving our neighbor and treating them as we treat ourselves in the Great Commandment, Jesus said, “this I leave you…”
These four steps will maximize our blessing. Yet being human, we get caught up in our own aggrandizement and forge ahead without using the instructions. How many of us have bought something and when it arrived we unpacked it, separate the parts and began putting the item together only to find that we should have read the instructions? Prayer is much the same, we can receive the prayer without applying the instructions and receive part of what God intended, or we can gratefully receive the blessing, thank God for answering our prayer, and follow his instructions to fulfill the blessing as intended.
Our problem is that we are not selfless people as God desires, we are self-absorbed people. We tend to follow the instructions but seldom through to the end. As we mature in the Word through our actions and deeds the instructions become involuntary and becomes one with us. We are free, but should not indulge the flesh, and should always be humble and loving.
Big order, but one we should work to strengthen and apply throughout the day because we will never meet perfection on earth, but we can continue to strive to be ‘on the way’.
One practice in learning to pray is to strengthen our understanding and application by memorizing scripture.
I’ve included a few, but do not stop here, search the Bible for other scriptures to help you mature in the Word. I view this process as a lifelong commitment.
“We love because [God] first loved us.” John 4:1
“Since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” John 4:11-12
“Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we are dead in our transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” Ephesians 2:4
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