You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh ; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”
I’m so old now that I can’t remember how I spent my eighteenth birthday. I suspect that I celebrated at our little place on the beach, probably with family, a few close friends, a barbecue and plenty of sailing. I suspect that that is not the typical way to celebrate an eighteenth birthday, however! I know of lots of people, who, having been freed from the law that forbade them to drink, headed to pubs, bars and night clubs and drank to excess. In some ways I can’t blame them. A typical eighteen year old, freed from the restrictions associated with being a child, wants to get our and enjoy their new found freedom as much as they can.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul has had much to say on the law of the Old Testament. He began chapter five with the bold statement, “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Those who follow Christ are no longer obliged to follow the law of the Old Testament in order to gain their salvation. Their salvation is secure because of Christ’s death and resurrection. There is nothing that we can do to win favour with God or that will result in is losing our salvation, because Jesus has paid the price for us to enter God’s kingdom.
Does that mean, then, that we can run wild and do whatever we want? No, of course not! Paul urges that we do not use our new-found freedom to “indulge the flesh,” that is, seeking out earthly pleasures. Instead we must make the focus of our energies “serving one another humbly in love.” Just as Jesus came as a servant king and washed the feet of his disciples, we must aspire to humility and service to others. We must do so “in love,” not resenting others who do seek out the pleasures of the flesh, or who take advantage of our goodness, or who mock us for our humility. If we do this then, in fact, we fulfil the spirit of the law, which is that we must strive to “love our neighbour as ourselves.”
Let us today renounce our sin and apologise to God for all that we have done wrong and let’s aspire to love all those whom we meet. We will probably need to pray to ask God to help us fulfil this order, since some people can be very hard to love!