Monday, 8 September 2014
Galatians 5:13-15: Opportunity knocks
“Wachel, can I sit next to you on the couch?” “No.” “On the floor?” “No.” “Pleeeeeze?” “No. Go away!” Rejected again, Becca slumped out of the room.
I understood why her persistence annoyed her older sister. Sibling rivalry wasn’t the problem at the moment. Sibling adoration was more like it. Five years in age difference made Rachel seem like an unattainable star in Becca’s little universe. Of course, there was an up side. Rachel had a little slave at her beck and call. It’s just that today she didn’t happen to need her services so she waved her away.
Yet it was in her power to made her little sister happy. It would take so little effort on her part. Like a queen extending the royal scepter, “Sure. Have a seat,” she could have bestowed favor, granted joy. Imagine squandering such a chance to bless another creature. What a wasted opportunity!
In a flash I responded. Not in passionate gentleness, urging her to reconsider the god-like opportunity before her. But in a flash of anger, with a sharp rebuke, “The least you could do is let her stay. You are the most selfish child I know!!”
Yeah. She wasn’t the only one who blew an opportunity that day.
Called to freedom. What does it look like to be called to freedom? That’s the direction Paul is now taking us in the last two chapters of Galatians. For freedom Christ has set us free. But how do I live it out?
Picture yourself as a convicted felon, serving out your sentence behind barbed wire in some penal institution. Wearing an orange jumpsuit. Then for no reason the pardon comes through. They come and get you out of your cell. Hand you new clothes, give you a wallet with cash in it, unlock the gate, and say, “You’re free!” You stand outside the walls blinking in the sunlight. What now?
I believe we spend so much time trying to get free and stay free–from worries, guilt, addictions, insecurities, discontent–that we have no clue how to live free.
Paul tells us that freedom is the door to opportunity. Let’s explore these three verses together.
This week’s questions.
1. How is this small paragraph connected to the previous section we studied (Galatians 5:1-12)? Make a list of repeated words and thoughts.
2. What are two ways to use freedom according to 5:13? See also 1 Peter 2:16, Jude 4, and 1 Corinthians 19-23.
3. We’ve know that Christ has set us free from relying on the law to be right with God. But in 5:14 Paul tells us that now we are also free to fulfill the law. How can this happen? (See Romans 8:3-4 and Galatians 5:22-23)
4. Using our freedom as an opportunity for the flesh can take many forms. What specific form did it take among the Galatians? Take a moment to picture how they were doing this to each other.
5. Jesus the Law Giver. How did Jesus clarify the intent of the law of God by his life and words? See Matthew 22:34-40 and John 13:34.
6. Jesus the Law Keeper. The law to love one another is still an impossibly high standard. How does the gospel free us to keep trying, even though we do it imperfectly? See 1 John 4:10-11
7. Am I “biting and devouring” anyone? (or even taking little nibbles out of them)? Christ can forgive and free me to love them today!
8. The opportunity to love can also take many forms. How can I love someone with my words today? With my actions?
I hope your freedom to love brings you great joy this week!