Gospel Economics – “Freedom”
by Russ Gressett
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Gospel Economics – “Freedom”
By Russ Gressett
I have recently been meditating on the word “freedom”. In the scripture below the context is our walking by the spirit … not by the letter of the law and not by the flesh.
It was for freedom (liberty) that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (bondage).
There are a lot of battles in “being a doer of the Word” as laid out in the verse above. It’s definitely a verse that can be difficult to “do”. We tend to go toward what I refer to as a false freedom of doing what the flesh wants to do or what religion has programmed our soul to do when in fact Paul refers to that tendency as slavery and bondage. We know he is right, but we get hoodwinked because we see it as the comfortable position that really has our best interests at heart. A move toward comfort (of whatever kind) can often lead us astray and into bondage.
Let’s face it, we can all catch ourselves in reluctance to the Spirit’s leading at times because we are just not totally convinced that obedience in that area would truly have our best interest at heart. It’s a trust factor. “Well, what if this happens if I do that?” Or, “If I do that, they will think this or say that … then where will I be?” Or, “I am just not sure this is God. I better just wait.” These are all things that we’ve likely heard ourselves say at times and offered up as a convincing excuse to ourselves of why not to “do”.
The greatest freedom that God gives us is the ability or freedom to trust Him to take care of each day. Not each month or each year … but each day. Living in a “daily” trust is where the true freedom of God resides for us. We get all messed up when we look down the road and cannot see what God will do in the midst of our fears and worries and anxieties. We can only see what “we” will do and then our eyes get off of His wisdom and His instruction.
It doesn’t mean that God will not speak to us about the future and about things to come. He will and does, but it will generally be strategic on His part when He does. He will not do so simply to alleviate our fear and worry and anxiety. He requires us to rest in Him daily to alleviate those rascals. He’ll just say things to us like, “My grace is sufficient”, “trust and obey”, “why worry about tomorrow, today has enough trouble of its own”, “Cast your care over on Me”. These are the kind of responses that mature us in our faith toward Him, but not necessarily the kind of responses that bring comfort to our mind, will and emotions.
So, when we are in unrest, worried, and anxious about the future, then all of the sudden we get a “word from God” about the future, we best be careful. We may be on our way around the mountain again ... fooled by the magnificence of our soul and flesh (and maybe a devil or two). God wants us resting in the freedom that is portrayed by His unconditional love for us. Namely, that He does not decide to care for us, look over us, lead, guide and direct us based on our performance. He simply does it because we are His.
Living in daily freedom requires us to live in the understanding that appearances and/or circumstances are not necessarily reality from God’s line of sight. For instance, many times we appear to be the bad guy, but we’re not. We appear to be close to financial ruin, but we’re not. We appear to be getting no where in leading our friend to Jesus, but we are. Appearances are not true reality if they do not line up with the will of God.
God’s resources are not limited to what we can see or think of. God has so many ways to do what He wants to do that it never requires us to do or say something we should not do or say. It never requires us to manipulate others. It’s simply not required. We should never doubt God’s ability to work beyond us. If we do, it messes with our ability to hear Him … or we will pre-conceive what we want Him to say to us. Freedom lives in just doing what God instructs in the secret place where our agendas do not interfere. We can live in true freedom daily with the comfort of knowing that God can and does work beyond us without any problems whatsoever. He loves to surprise us with the way prepared and the crooked places made straight. But, He also loves the maturity that is built in us by our not knowing everything in advance and operating in faith. He did say by the way that we (the just) are to live by faith.
Eve did what she thought was best for herself because she bought the lie that God had other motives that were not in her best interests. Her selfishness caused her to see a selfish motive in God. So much of what we decide to partake in is driven by our lack of sight, or refusal to see, that God is working on our behalf (not might be … but is). So we miss initiating the actions that should be produced by our truly walking in freedom.
God will never require us to protect ourselves at someone else’s expense. If we hold up man made, religious standards to ourselves or to others and motivate ourselves or others to conform to them out of a fear of what will happen to us if we don’t, we are really in no better position than are the sow and reap preachers that motivate people to give from a base of greed.
For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
Most of the time we read this verse above and think of something bad or sinful in our human rationale. Actually however, it really can mean many things and situations that we overlook. It really means doing the opposite of the verse’s last statement. ..:but through love, serve one another”. We should ask ourselves what the opposite of that statement is and how can that manifest in our daily lives.
Freedom is not in the midst of “I have to” … it’s in the midst of “I get to”. In Romans, Paul speaks in numerous places about being led by the Spirit and following after the Spirit. We are led by the Spirit (Holy Spirit) when we let our born again human spirit dictate our decisions. That is the part of us that truly communes with the Father. Freedom from bondage and slavery is in that place. That place will crucify the flesh and will cause it to conform in instances where it is not comfortable. It’s on the backside of these occasions where freedom wells up inside of us and becomes tangible and invigorating … joyful. What does that mean? Listen to this experience and hopefully it will clear up what I am talking about. Recently, a business partner of mine (Darrell Hardy) and I had a wonderful experience over the lunch hour at a Cajun restaurant in the Clear Lake area of Houston. We were about finished eating when the owner of this establishment came out into the dining area and got everyone's attention. This restaurant owner had seen one of his patrons wearing a t-shirt that said something along the lines of "Soldiers For Christ" and it moved him to take a moment and testify and exhort the people in his restaurant. He made a decision toward freedom and did Galatians 5:1. He started by thanking all the people and hoping that they enjoyed their meals, but then proceeded to give glory to God for what He had recently been doing in his life. He made the statement that Jesus was the way, the truth and the life and that we were all in a real battle for our souls. He later invited people to come back to his office if they needed prayer or felt the conviction power of the God and wanted to ask questions, or whatever.
I felt extremely privileged to have been at that place at that time. I told Darrell that we had just experienced a divine appointment. He agreed. But here's the deal on how this applies to real freedom. It seemed like this guy was doing this for the first time. You could just tell. I literally could see this guy putting his flesh under and ushering in freedom to his life, his experience and his business ... and us. It was not an easy thing for him and I don't think he was fully understanding how it was being received by the patrons until everyone gave him an ovation after he had finished. That is when he experienced real freedom. That's when he accomplished the real doing of Galatians 5:1.
Freedom and liberty is present in the midst of life. That’s how I know the restaurant owner experienced a burst of freedom on the inside after doing what was on his heart. That’s how what Paul ties together with being led of the Spirit meshes together with standing fast in the freedom in which Christ has made you free. Our spirit is that part of us that is alive to God able to live in intimate fellowship dragging along the flesh and bringing it into submission. That life expands and blows up on the inside of us as we obey. That’s what our man at the restaurant was experiencing as he dragged his flesh into that obedience.
I remember one morning I was driving to the office and I’d not even gotten out of the neighborhood when I passed a man who was walking along a popular walking trail beside a golf course. As I passed by, I distinctly heard these words in my spirit, "It's not too late for that man to finish all that I have put in his heart to do." I heard it plainly. It wasn’t the sort of statement you just hear driving down the road on a typical day. But I just kept driving. After a few hundred yards it was like I heard another statement, or question rather, that went like this, "Do you think I told you that just so that you would know it? Turn around and go tell him. He’s the one that I want to know it."
So here I am faced with a decision like we all face every day in differing ways. Do I choose freedom or bondage? Do I yield to my flesh that really doesn’t want to waste the time, or do I refuse to give opportunity to my flesh and instead, through love, choose to serve? Drag the flesh toward freedom or let the flesh pull me into bondage. We face these decisions daily. They are constant, and I think we fail at them more than we succeed. Well, I turned that truck around (of course I did ... I'm not telling one of my failure/bondage stories. This is freedom story). I pulled over in a small parking lot about the time this man had reached that same parking lot in his walk. I got out of the truck, walked up to the man and said "Excuse me sir, could I visit with you for just a quick second? I am a Christian man and I am sure this will sound crazy to you, but as I was driving by you just now God spoke to me and said that it was not too late for you to accomplish all that he had placed in your heart to accomplish." Tears began to well up in this man's eyes as I spoke these simple few words to him. When I finished he responded and said "Well, I am a Christian man as well and you don't know how important those words are to me. I have been in despair recently due to a number of health issues. In fact, I am from out of town and staying with family while I see doctors down in the medical center and I have a very important appointment just this morning. Your words tell me that everything is under control and in God’s hands.”
I encouraged him some more and when I got back in the truck I felt like exploding on the inside. It was freedom. I was free. True liberty! Probably exactly what was happening to the restaurant owner when he walked back in his office ... same thing that has happened to you on numerous occasions.
Here is the exhortation … let’s all stand fast in freedom ... daily. Let’s don’t do it every now and then, but daily. Let’s not give opportunity to the flesh by saying “no” to opportunities to serve others. Why? Because it was for freedom (liberty) that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery (bondage).
Father, help us today and every day see opportunities to stand firm in freedom. Help us to see the putting under of the flesh as being related to serving or not serving others as opposed to saying no to sex drugs and rock-n-roll.
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