Scripture: Galatians 5:1-15
Observation: Paul speaks of the freedom we receive in Christ through salvation. He reminds them that nothing except faith can make them right with God, including circumcision. He addresses some of the false teaching they had heard. Finally, he encourages them to use their freedom wisely – to express it through loving others well, not through giving into selfish and sinful desires.
Application: For many of us, our whole lives are about making choices. In the last 30 seconds, I made quite a few choices: Ignore a text message. (I’m a terrible friend when I’m trying to focus.) Silence my phone. Turn down the volume on Spotify. Turn the page in the journal I’m working out of. Delete a few words. Rewrite them. Delete them again. (This is basically my whole life when I’m writing.)
Some research shows that we make an average of 35,000 decisions in a single day. 35,000! If our life really is the sum of all of our choices, that’s 35,000 opportunities a day to decide who we’re becoming. (That’s equal parts encouraging and terrifying.)
Paul didn’t have the Internet, but he seems like he was a pretty smart guy. He knew that all of us would have the opportunity to make a lot of choices throughout the course of our lives. Throughout Galatians, he chooses to remind them of what really matters: their faith in Jesus Christ. They are made right with God through faith alone, not because of what they do or don’t do. They’re free.
“So Christ has truly set us free. Now make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to law.” (v.1)
Before putting our faith in Jesus, we were slaves to our sinful nature, our selfishness, our pride, our desires to elevate ourselves and diminish others. Despite what culture tells us, we weren’t born inherently good. From the very first moment that sin entered the picture, the stain of sin stuck with us forever, marring our intentions, our attitudes, and our choices.
And then Jesus came – and he offered a new choice. He not only offered salvation from our sin; he offered us a new nature, his life-giving spirit. The sinful nature no longer has to dominate our every thought, action, and behavior.
Through our faith in Christ Jesus, we are free to choose who we become.
So what should we choose? Here’s what Paul offered the Galatians:
“But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love. For the whole law can be summed up in this one command. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (v.13-14)
In our 35,000 choices a day, how often do we choose our sinful nature over our Spirit nature? How many times do we choose me over we, in obvious ways and in the subtle ones? How often do we withhold encouragement and affirmation out of laziness or out of an irrational fear that elevating others will diminish ourselves? How many times do we choose division over unity? How often do we close ourselves off rather than share our hearts, our souls, our gifts, and our talents with the world?
We are free to choose. The gravitational pull towards selfishness, towards sin, towards self-preservation and self-protection and self-promotion is powerless against the Spirit of God within us.
Let’s choose love.
Prayer: God, I come to you to repent today. There are so many moments where I choose myself over others, where I try to posture and protect myself. There’s no place for that in the Kingdom of God. I invite your Spirit to live within me, to inform every choice, every word, and every thought. Amen.