Athlete, Here is Freedom at Its Best
Galatians 5:13 (NIV)
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.
Many would argue that the best way to play offensive basketball is in free-flow, where the ball is shared freely, all players make meaningful cuts, and multiple scoring options occur every trip down the floor.
How to get there is the trick. When play is either too scripted or too selfish, this free flow is lost. Selfish ambition and feeding the need for control get in the way. All too often this happens.
Teams that handle freedom the best often succeed the most. All team sports must battle to find the right balance in the call to freedom.
God is committed to our ultimate freedom. Hallelujah for that (Galatians 5:1)! No one brings it like Him. And He teaches us how to handle it best once we receive it. That’s what so much of the book of Galatians is about.
Interestingly, He instructs us to see that life should be lived like the way good offense is run – free-flowing movement wrapped around order, balance, awareness of others, sharing, good coaching, and plenty of options. The player-freedom we so want must be encased in these other things if we want to truly experience victory in life.
Specifically, God pulls out a big, bold highlighter to grow our proper understanding of freedom. He declares that our freedom is not for us. Galatians 5:13 makes this clear. Somehow people were getting addicted to other ideas about what freedom really means.
[Then, like now, people were seeing freedom as a personal right rather than a personal responsibility. And that people who do not honor our personal rights do not deserve freedom. They must be silenced, marginalized, enslaved, eliminated. Instead, God says that love is more important than liberty. He’ll take care of our freedom when we make love the law.]
God declares that the purpose of our freedom is to serve others. Any other path to freedom we pursue will eventually devolve into selfish ambition and sinful indulgence … or both. And what a mess this will make (James 3:16).
No sustained scoring comes and no epic wins in life ever await when selfish ambition and sinful indulgence get playing time. “Serve one another in love“ is the only way to sustain freedom.
Freedom to serve in love is the purpose of our freedom and must be our only aim. May no other freedom definition hijack us. May no other way of playing shape the way we live.
Reflect: What’s the purpose of the freedoms you enjoy? Does (selfish) ambition have a little too much grip on your life? Is there a sinful indulgence keeping you from a life of service in love? If so, what simple move can be made to break free?
A prayer to consider: Heavenly Father, thank You for calling us all to true freedom, and setting the best definition for what this should look like. Grant me grace and confidence to pursue the beautiful abandon of serving others in love like I see in Jesus.
Help me to humbly rely on Your Spirit to free me from the selfish ambition and sinful indulgences that limit my freedom. I need You to set me free and keep me free. Amen.