Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Fri, 25/06/2010 – 12:05
Year C (2009-2010)
Bible Book: Galatians / Galasiers
Chapter: 5
Verse: 1 – 26

When Paul reasons with the Christians in Galatia about their freedom in Christ, he does not have a political concept in mind. He is deeply concerned that they might turn away from the gospel of salvation and grace through Christ. They started well (cf 3:3) and were running a good race (cf 5:7), but now they seem to follow other teachers (cf 4:17) and a different gospel (cf 1:6). Therefore Paul warns them that if they continue on this new course, they will lose their freedom in Christ (cf 5:1).

Although Paul does not give an academic definition of what freedom means to the Christian, he uses practical examples.

On the one hand, freedom is the opposite of slavery. Someone who has been set free by Christ should no longer be a slave to religious decrees. The NKJV’s translation of verse 1 highlights this danger: “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

On the other hand, freedom is not an opportunity for self-indulgence. When you “use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want” (5:13b – CEV), it quickly becomes a new form of slavery.

The freedom Paul defends is a freedom that releases us from a legalistic religion, (cf 5:1) while it protects us against self-indulgence (cf 5:13).

This freedom cannot be separated from our relationship with Christ. Therefore, this freedom finds its expression in love. “Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love” (5:13c – NLT).

The crux of the matter is to “make sure that you stay free” (5:1 – NLT). And to do this, not by doing nothing, but by serving one another. When reading the passage from verses 13 to 26 in this light it is fascinating how often Paul uses relational concepts. For example – eight of the “works of the flesh” listed in 5:19-21 have to do with divisiveness within the community: enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, and envy. Verses 15 and 26 speak for themselves.

Christians who “bite and devour one another” (v 15) and who “become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” (v 26 – NKJV) are Christians who are consumed by the question of what is right and what is wrong. However, Christians who are free in Christ should rather ask: “Who should I love?” and “How should I love this person?”. “For the whole law can be summed up in this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’” (v 14 – NLT).

To think about or discuss: Does your freedom in Christ help you to serve people living with HIV?

Author: N du Toit (Ds)
Language: English