Sitting with the Shepherd
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." (Galatians 5:13-14 NKJV)
The effects of addiction or bondage to life dominating sin in a person's life are devastating, not only to the person himself, but to those who love him. While the world erroneously defines addiction as a disease, those who live by the word of God define it as sin, specifically idolatry or spiritual adultery. It is a worship disorder. One of the common effects of sin in general according to theological textbooks is self-centeredness. Those ensnared by it come to a place where they lose the ability to relate to others, including those that love them the most. Those of us who have been to that place can attest to the fact that it is a deep, dark dungeon of despair.
In his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul reminds them that their new found liberty from the bondage of sin should not be used as an opportunity to revert back to self-gratifying indulgences of their fallen flesh, but as an opportunity to care for others by serving them. This service to others cannot be forced or mandated but most be motivated by love, because that is not the way that love functions. Being compelled to serve pales in comparison to serving out of a heart of love. Jesus Himself told His followers that their righteousness must exceed that of the Pharisees. "For I say to you, that unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20 NKJV) By this he meant that they needed to act out of a deeper motivation than compulsion to follow a set of rules.
True liberty is being able to move beyond selfish motivation and being free to serve others, loving them with the same love that God has for us. This means putting their interests ahead of our own is something that cannot be commanded or mandated. It is empowered by the grace of God who loved us while we were yet sinners and gave us His very best. It was motivated as the joy that was set before Him.
"Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV)
Questions for Personal Reflection or Discussion
1. What have been the effects of sin in your life related to your relationships with others?
2. 2. How has your freedom from the bondage of sin impacted those relationships?
3. Who is it in your life that YOU can serve today with the love of Christ?
My Father in heaven, my God blessed be Your Holy Name. I realize in reading Your word today that the only thing that makes me capable of loving others is the love that you have and continue to lavish upon me. Fill me afresh with Your Holy Spirit that I may love those who love me as well as those who don't today. May all of those whom I come in contact with today see Jesus in me. Amen