Free in Christ (but determined never to be a “Freedom Flaunter!”

Christian maturity and Christlike love… How are those things expressed in relationship to others?

I’ve encountered fellow Christians who reveled in, and insisted upon, their so called “freedom.”  They declare they’ve been set free from an old, outdated, “legalism” and are now enjoying dressing, participating in, and indulging in things they say they weren’t able to in the past!  I’ve even heard a few make this statement in so many words… “No one is going to tell me what I can and cannot do!”  They emphatically declare, “If the Bible doesn’t explicitly forbid it, I’m going to do it!”  Fact is, for some of them there is no discernable difference between their lifestyle and the lifestyle and values of the broader pagan culture.

Now I acknowledge that “freedom in Christ” and the Gospel message negate salvation by works.  I’m pretty aware that Apostle Paul was not at all pleased with believers who simply turned salvation by grace alone into just a list of rules (check out Galatians)!

Interestingly though, the position of the Apostle Paul was not “I’ll enjoy my freedom at all costs” …  His approach to Christian maturity and Christlike love instead urged believers to limit their “freedom” for the benefit of fellow Christians.  He warned them to avoid trampling upon the convictions and personal scruples of fellow followers of Christ.

Here it is from my Bible reading today during my time of “coffee with the Lord”…

“Decide never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of a [fellow Christian]! … If [fellow Christians] are grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love.  By what you eat do not destroy the one for whom Christ died.  So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil… Let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.  Do not, for the sake of food, destroy the work of God.  Everything is indeed clean, but it is wrong to make another stumble… It is good not to do anything that causes fellow Christians to stumble… We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves.  Let each of us please our neighbor for their good, to build them up.  For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, ‘the reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.’”.  (Adapted from Romans 14:13 – 15:7)

Let me put it this way… I’m grateful for my freedom in Christ – that I am not saved by my works.  But I want to follow in the footsteps of “the One who did not please Himself” but gave Himself for us all!  Because of that, I never want to be guilty of flaunting my freedom!  Instead I want to be willing to limit my freedom for the spiritual benefit and welfare of fellow Christians!

 

When being in debt “over your head” is a good thing…

Close-up View Of African Man's Hands Holding Plastic Credit CardBeing in debt… in debt “over your head” – NOT usually a good thing except perhaps in the case of what I read about in my Bible during “coffee with the Lord” this morning…

“Owe nothing to anyone—EXCEPT FOR YOUR OBLIGATION TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER! If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commandments say, ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.’ These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself!’ Love does no wrong to others, so LOVE FULFILLS THE REQUIREMENTS OF GOD’S LAW!” (From Romans 13:8–10 NLT)

Oh, and the level of our “love indebtedness?” …

“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, SINCE GOD LOVED US THAT MUCH, WE SURELY OUGHT TO LOVE EACH OTHER.” (1 John 4:10-11 NLT)

“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do [now that’s a tall order!], because you are His dear children. Live a life filled with love, FOLLOWING THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST. HE LOVED US AND OFFERED HIMSELF AS A SACRIFICE FOR US, a pleasing aroma to God.” (Ephesians 5:1–2 NLT)

You know what? I have a feeling that is one debt I’ll never completely pay… Just say’n! But I’m working on it!

What does a REAL Christian look like? (Romans 12:9-21)

arealchristian

Romans 12 is one of the most wonderful and important chapters in all the Bible!  It begins by emphasizing the secret of a transformed life (vss. 1-2), then it transitions to a biblical description of what constitutes a health self-concept for a Christian (vss. 3-8), and finally it closes by presenting a wonderful picture of what an authentic Christian ought to look like in daily life (vss. 9-21).  Hey take it from me, if you haven’t taken time to read and reflect deeply on its message, do it… DO IT NOW!  In fact, I’d recommend you make it a Bible memory project… You’ll be glad you did!

I mean, can you imagine someone who lives like Romans 12:9-21 describes?  What an impact they would have on their world!  What a positive influence they would be in their community!  How unbelievers would be drawn to their Spiritual magnetism!  What a healthy, healing impact they would have within any local church (pastor’s would love ‘em!)!

Here’s a bulleted list of some of the things I saw there (some paraphrased by me)…

  • Authentic, Christlike love – the real thing!
  • An aversion for anything evil!
  • A clinging to whatever is good and wholesome!
  • Deep love and affection for fellow Christians (even those that do not share the same label)!
  • People who love showing respect and honor to others!
  • Never lazy… instead characterized by zeal for serving the Lord!
  • Lives filled with hope – rejoicing in God’s promises and the bright future ahead for Christians!
  • When things are tough… patient though their trials!
  • People whose lives are filled with prayer – sustained prayer!
  • Generous – they love to help other who are in need!
  • Hospitable!
  • When persecuted by others – they bless their persecuters instead!
  • They rejoice when others rejoice!
  • They share the sorrow of those who are in grief!
  • They have wonderful people skills – they live in harmony with fellow Christians (and their neighbors)!
  • They are never haughty and associate with common folk!
  • They never act like “know-it-alls” or “smarty pants”!
  • Retaliation is not the way they respond to wrongs! They NEVER try to get even – instead they respond with goodness, kindness and forgiveness!
  • They are completely motivated by what is honorable!
  • In any church, organization, or community, depend on it – they can be depended upon to be “peacemaker”!
  • In fact, bottom line? They conquer the rampant evil around them with overwhelming goodness!

I’ll tell you… This is what I wrote in the margin of my Bible this morning… “Oh Lord, give me the grace to live this way!!!  I believe that is how God wants authentic Christians to act!!!

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