February 28 I Wednesday
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” —Galatians 5:1
I remember once hearing a pastor on the radio talking about whether Christians should go to ballgames. He said something like this: “If you want to go to a ballgame because it builds relationships with your kids, or it gives you an opportunity to be a witness of God’s grace to others, I guess that’s okay.” I remember thinking this was odd. Why is it not okay to go to a ballgame simply because you enjoy a ballgame? Must our enjoyment of an activity always be justified by some secondary spiritual reasoning?
Much of Galatians is about the slavery that comes from constantly trying to obey the Old Testament law. Paul was concerned over some Jewish believers who were trying to force new Gentile converts to be circumcised, implying that salvation required Jesus plus adherence to elements of the law. This is not the Gospel. Jesus alone sets us free, but obsessive obedience to the law enslaves us to sin. This is why Paul urges his readers throughout Galatians to not use their freedom to subject themselves again to slavery.
However, Paul is clear that being freed from slavery under the Law does not give us permission to ignore morality. He writes, “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). The choice is ours, but God has set us free so we can live in ways honouring and pleasing to Him. We can only do this when living by the Spirit of Christ, who works in us to produce the fruit of the Spirit —love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. “Against such things there is no law,” Paul says (Galatians 5:23). There are still boundaries of truth and morals that God expects us to act within, boundaries the Spirit will make clear to us, but we can live freely within those boundaries.
This is why it is okay to go to ballgames, movies, dances or any event within God’s moral perimeters for no other reason than pure enjoyment. “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” We do not have to wrap our lives around rules, laws and spiritual obligations to justify a day out. We can and should be open to activities and relaxation as part of a wholesome Christian life. When we let God be God in our lives and enjoy the resulting freedom, we live a more balanced life that not only generates goodwill and comradeship, but makes us a happier person because of it!
Prayer: Sovereign Lord, there are many activities and events I enjoy. I only ask that I exhibit more of the fruit of the Spirit wherever I am, and thank You for the freedom that comes in relationship with You.
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