Freedom. To quote Inigo Montoya from the movie Princess Bride, “You say that word a lot, but I don’t think it means what you think it means.”
These days, it seems to be a word like beauty—it lies in the eyes of the beholder. For some, it means nobody around to tell them what to do or not do. The old west was populated with such an attitude, along with survivalists of today and many miscreants. The woman who declared she had the right (freedom) to loot stores during the 2020 riots as her way to adjust financial injustice comes to mind.
Conversely, prison inmates have spoken of being free, even though they live behind bars and are told what to do and when to do it every day.
For some, freedom correlates to having the authority through personal resources to choose to work that day or to take a trip around the world instead…to buy any car or house they want.
Others may think only of being free from illnesses that keep them from enjoying life as they want or as they see others enjoying.
And, of course, for the colonists three centuries ago, freedom meant having the right to govern themselves apart from foreign oppression.
After looking at several quotes—famous quotes—on freedom, I found the best in the Bible. In it, I learn we are all accountable to God, the ultimate judge of righteousness. With that comes the weight of the knowledge of sin, but He made a way through His Son Jesus Christ to be free of that burden and sin’s wages, which is eternal death. We are free from all that pain and destruction. Having been set free, we are no longer bound to continuing in sinful ways. We can choose.
With the freedom to choose comes additional responsibility and accountability, so the apostle Paul wrote this exhortation: “For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love,” (Galatians 5:13, New Living Translation).
While Paul is speaking of the freedom Christians have after having sins forgiven, his warning applies equally to our enjoyment of freedom in America. Rivers and oceans are beautiful and wonderful to enjoy while they stay within their set boundaries, but when high winds or heavy rains cause them to swell and beat against or overflow their banks, their beauty turns into a destructive force. So, our freedoms have limitations. They should never be used to carry out evil.
After the warning in Galatians, Paul gives direction for Christians to express their freedoms: by love serve one another. A few verses later in this letter, Paul talks about the fruit of the Spirit in believers’ hearts being love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. He adds that there is no law against any of these things. So, it comes down to this: excelling in these things is the best way to celebrate our freedom.