“Give me liberty or give me death!”
Why were Patrick Henry and so many other men willing to die for liberty during the American Revolution, risking everything to form the nation we celebrate today, this 241st Fourth of July?
This fight for liberty might have birthed a modern nation, but its roots are ancient and its application extends to all areas of life, not just civics. In fact, in Paul’s first letter to the believers in Corinth around 55 A.D., he writes of liberty:
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being. Eat whatever is sold in the meat market, asking no questions for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.” If any of those who do not believe invites you to dinner, and you desire to go, eat whatever is set before you, asking no question for conscience’ sake. But if anyone says to you, “This was offered to idols,” do not eat it for the sake of the one who told you, and for conscience’ sake; for “the earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness.” “Conscience,” I say, not your own, but that of the other. For why is my liberty judged by another man’s conscience? But if I partake with thanks, why am I evil spoken of for the food over which I give thanks? Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God, just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved (1 Corinthians 10:23-33, emphasis mine).
The controversy as to whether or not believers should eat meat sacrificed to pagan idols is obviously a big deal! Can you imagine the heated arguments going down between those who had no problem with it and others who considered it the most grievous sin? Maybe this isn’t a hot button in churches today, but aren’t some of us shopping at stores whose parent companies are financing agendas in direct opposition to God’s word while others refuse to? Don’t some of us drink with complete freedom while others believe Christians should never touch alcohol? What the believer whose conscience is unaffected by R rated movies, while another’s conscience won’t even allow them to turn on the television? What do we do when one believer attends a homosexual wedding as the ultimate expression of unconditional love and another believes it’s denying Jesus?
Our convictions drive our decisions, and it’s easy to judge someone else when they aren’t living the way we think they should, especially when it’s another believer. And so this scripture is so very relevant for us today and always!
Here’s the key:
The goal is not to establish right rules for behavior
so we can hold each other hostage to our convictions;
it’s to right our hearts in love for the Father and therefore love for others
and then let our behavior naturally follow.
Liberty is the Greek word eleutheria or freedom, which we might associate with being liberated! No longer in bondage but free, like we are in Christ, when He sets us free from the law of sin and death. But liberty is so much more than mere liberation!
In the context of this scripture and how the word is used in the Bible, liberty is:
The freedom to do as you please,
but using that freedom to please the Lord.
Who gets to judge how we use our liberty? Our liberty is not judged by another’s conscience; it’s judged by God.
So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:12-13).
Because of liberty, do ALL for the glory of God.
Give no offense to another.
Seek not your own profit but others’.
Use your liberty to choose to please God. We belong to Him; we bear His name. His Spirit lives and dwells within us, and “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17)!!! Where the Spirit of the Lord is, freedom is used to do what please God.
Oh yes! Give me liberty so I can know death – the death of my selfish flesh that wants to seek only my own interests. Liberty to love God and love others by using my freedom to please Him by consciously choosing to forgo even my most favorite things if it will benefit another person.
When we don’t? The result is bondage.
“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).
History is riddled with cycles of bondage, revolutions, freedom and a return to bondage as determined by what man does with his liberty. Nowhere do we see this truth in greater measure than the Old Testament and God’s relationship with the Israelites.
We can learn from history or repeat it.
Being liberated is only the first step; liberty keeps us free.
Oh let us be good stewards of liberty in Christ as well as the liberty bought with the blood of the men and women who gave all for this nation.
Happy Fourth of July! God bless America!