For you have been called to live in freedom — not freedom to satisfy your sinful nature, but freedom to serve one another in love. -Galatians 5:13
I came across this verse this morning and it really struck a chord with me. I’ve talked to a lot of people over the years that thought becoming a Christian would be boring and full of rules and full of restrictions. I grew up in a church that was very old-fashioned. We stopped attending regularly when I was a young teen so my memory may not be completely accurate, but I don’t recall a bunch of joy. I felt that there were too many rules and regulations to being a good Christ follower, that it would cut into my fun. And to a large degree, the church seemed to encourage that thought.
As I grew older and began a family of my own, I was hesitant to bring that stuffiness into my family. But as a new parent, a new joy came over me. A new love for my new young son, a love for my wife as I saw her grow in role of mommy. I felt what it was like to serve not myself, but to serve the needs of my family. A new responsibility grew in my very soul. One that finally made me begin to grow up.
It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, until my daughter was born two years later, I really struggled with my sinful nature. When she was born, something switched in me…..I didn’t have time to satisfy my sins….I had no choice but to serve my family. I also realized the joy that comes from service to my family because of my love for them, was so much stronger and long lasting than the false joy that came when I gave into my own desires.
About this time, I also was becoming a changed man….going from an angry young man, to one that actually began to think beyond my own little world. I began to care for others…and not just my own family, but others in general.
We joined a church that didn’t emphasize the rules and how our lives would need to change to follow Christ, but instead I learned that by finding the joy of Christ, my life changed and the desires for my sinful ways went away. Am I perfect, no way….I still struggle with sins, but now instead of seeing my walk with Christ as a detriment to my joy, it is the primary reason for my joy.
God wants us to be joyful. Knowing Him gives us the freedom to be joyful all the time, not as a slave to our sinful nature, but as the joyfulness of our very being.
I am overwhelmed with joy in the Lord my God! For he has dressed me with the clothing of salvation and draped me in a robe of righteousness. -Isaiah 61:10