Spending or Investing FreedomFeb 23, 2022
As followers of Jesus, we are told that we have freedom in Christ. But we can use that freedom in such a way as to either increase it or diminish it. I hear this insight in the words of Paul to his friends in Corinth:
“Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be mastered by anything. “Food is for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will do away with both of them. However, the body is not for sexual immorality but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.
1 Corinthians 6:12-13 CSB
Paul takes slogans about freedom that were popular in his time and exposes the errors they contain. He shows how doing whatever you feel like doing may not always be a good thing, but these days that’s an unpopular message.
“I can do whatever I want. I’m free. There is nothing to limit me.” Paul affirms the statement in one sense, but he goes on to qualify it. Of course we can do just about anything we want. God is not in the habit of preventing us from exercising our free will. Paul simply reminds the Corinthians that not everything we are free to do is good to do. Not every exercise of freedom is equal in its outcome. We can freely choose life or we can freely choose destruction. That is the nature of the options God gives us.
The other argument Paul offers against the “I can do whatever I want” impulse is that we do not want to be mastered by what we choose to do with our freedom. Do we use our freedom in a way that reduces it or in a way that increases it? Do we spend our freedom or invest it? Freely choosing to exercise increases my freedom in terms of stamina, strength and energy. Choosing to spend my time sitting in my recliner all the time diminishes my physical freedom.
When we choose to spend our freedom, over time we’ll have less of it. Such is the nature of addiction. At some point a person may choose to exercise their freedom to smoke cigarettes, but that freedom entraps them as they become dependent on the nicotine.
The ancient slogan “Food for the stomach and the stomach for food” was a way of saying “In one end, out the other. It’s never really in me; it just goes through me. What does it matter what I eat?” Paul responds to the absurdity of this by pointing out that neither food nor the physical body is eternal. Both are destined to be destroyed. Both are temporary realities.
It’s more important to remember that the body is meant for the Lord. It is given by God and should be used to honor God. Do we use our bodies in a way that draws us toward God or moves us away from him? Seeking sex apart from God’s design is self-destructive. Seeking pleasure through eating and drinking apart from him also destroys us.
I think the question God is inviting me to ask myself is this: What would be good for me? What would increase my freedom?
- In what way have you invested your freedom so that you have more of it now than you did before?
Photo by Christopher Windus on Unsplash