THOUGHTS ON THE LORD’S DAY
“Are you living in response-able freedom?”
When you are in the midst of a crisis, do you react out of emotion and bias or are you able to respond with mature thoughtfulness and responsibility? The ability to do what needs to be done, when it needs to be done, because it needs to be done, is the definition of true response-able freedom.
Freedom is not the absence of restraint but the fruit of disciplined behavior. Only the disciplined athlete wins at the top level on a consistent basis. Only the disciplined musician can regularly perform the most difficult pieces with excellence.
The ability to perform at the highest level, regardless of the effort, is the result of disciplined practice over time. This is true of all life but especially the Christian life. Many have accepted God’s grace for eternal life, salvation, but not for living a disciplined life, the life of true freedom.
The life that Jesus advocated was not a life filled with rules, regulations, and restrictions. It was a life filled with opportunities leading to response-able freedom. He said real freedom can be summed up in just two commandments, “Love the Lord God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” Result—free to be what God intended you to be, not bound to be what others think is best.
Response-able people live a disciplined life before the crisis. This is what gives them the ability to make wise decisions when the pressure is on, the options are limited and the outcome is uncertain.
True freedom is the discipline to do what we are able to do in order to receive the grace of God, the ability to do what we cannot do through our own efforts. Example, we are to love our enemies, those who curse us and spitefully use us. Try that with your own strength! If you do, you will fail miserably. It is simply not within our natural abilities.
The disciplines of living a fasted life, prayer, study, and solitude in and of themselves, have no merit. If not careful, they can lead to bondage, not freedom. Their purpose is solely to put us before God on a regular basis. It is in His presence that grace flows. Discipline without grace many times leads you to being proud of your own humility, and an unhealthy reliance on your own abilities.
Humility, the root of response-able freedom, is not a product of discipline, but a gift of God’s grace as you bow before Him. However, grace without discipline leads to sloppy living and disappointment in times of crisis. Spiritual discipline is God’s way of forming and transforming our spirit and personality so when we are in crisis, we can be “response-able,” able to respond with maturity, grace and wisdom.
It is critical for us to see in our spiritual development, the importance of our personal disciplines in the context of God’s grace. The Apostle Paul reminds us in Philippines 2:13, “It is God who is at work in us, enabling us to will and to work for His good pleasure.” We are not just saved by grace. We live by grace. Every discipline of our life is by God’s grace or it becomes an act of our own flesh.
Response-able freedom is not limited by geography, only by the dictates of our own heart and mind. Many are frustrated by the current restrictions being forced upon us by our government officials. Should we protest when they infringe on our guaranteed rights and freedoms? Absolutely!
However, reacting in anger, deep frustration and bitterness become burdens we must carry that greatly hinder the peace and freedom that God’s grace guarantees in Isaiah 26:3: “God will keep us in perfect peace when we keep our minds on Him.”
Only those living in God’s guaranteed peace are mature, response-able and experiencing true freedom. You cannot help others find freedom while still bound in the bondage of your own making. “He whom the Son sets free, is free indeed.” John 8:36