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Using our God-given freedom well

January 11, 2023

Daily Scripture

Galatians 4:31-5:1, 5:13-15, 22-23

31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we aren’t the slave woman’s children, but we are the free woman’s children. 5 1 Christ has set us free for freedom. Therefore, stand firm and don’t submit to the bondage of slavery again.

13 You were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only don’t let this freedom be an opportunity to indulge your selfish impulses, but serve each other through love. 14 All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself [Leviticus 19:18]. 15 But if you bite and devour each other, be careful that you don’t get eaten up by each other!

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against things like this.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The Apostle Paul planted new churches in the Roman province of Galatia (modern Turkey). After Paul left, “false teachers” began swaying people in Galatia to follow certain external rules and laws for God to accept them. Paul, in his letter, urged his readers to claim their spiritual freedom in Christ. Jesus words identified one of the “great commandments” (“love your neighbor as yourself”) as key to that freedom. Technology can greatly enhance or reduce our ability to live out that commandment.

  • In verse 13 Paul bluntly stated a truth we often struggle to admit. We all have selfish impulses, especially if we can choose freely. He pointed his readers to the one who can give us the ability to live in love: the Holy Spirit (“Be guided by the Spirit and you won’t carry out your selfish desires”—verse 16). In what ways might you invite the Spirit to empower you to love your neighbor more fully as yourself, particularly in the realm of social media and other technology?
  • Paul echoed Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 22:35-40 to describe the great commandment’s meaning: “All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement.” But even many Christians struggle to live that out. We add a whole variety of doctrinal nuances to the list of things needed to “fulfill the law,” and often use technology as a megaphone to share our views. Can you trust, for yourself and for other believers, that “love your neighbor as yourself” truly fulfills “all the law”?

O God, technology gives me a level and reach of communication Paul could only have wished for. Help me to use that freedom well, in loving and positive ways. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Jennifer Creagar

Jennifer Creagar

Jennifer Creagar is the Community Assistance Coordination Director in Resurrection's Congregational Care Ministry. She is married and loves spending time with her family, and she enjoys writing and photography.

Apparently, the words I used most often on Facebook last year were “Rock Chalk Jayhawk.” (For readers outside of Kansas who aren’t college basketball fans, that’s the University of Kansas athletic fans’ chant.) Understandable in a National Championship year, I suppose, but what do I want my most used words to be this year?

Technology has brought us a world of possibilities, facts, connections, and fun. It has also brought us a world of cyber-threats, new ways to lie and steal, and heart-and-soul damaging bullying. How can we navigate and enjoy the one, without falling victim, or finding ourselves participating in, the other?

Technology has given us connection to the world and the freedom to explore it, but it’s not the kind of freedom Paul is talking about in Galatians 5:13-14. God has called us to freedom, but it’s the freedom to serve each other in love, not the freedom to use this grand tool to, as he says in vs. 15, “bite and devour each other,” or “get eaten up by each other.” Words have great impact, and our words can hurt. I know families where walls of words have been built, all online, that may separate them forever.

Is it possible to love your neighbor, and show the world joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control with others online as well as in person? I think Paul, in some part at least, shows us the answer. Just as Paul wrote encouraging words to the believers he had encountered in his travels, we can encourage one another in emails and texts and comments. I have a friend who texts and messages friends randomly, just to tell them what she appreciates about them and how she sees God using them. Receiving one of those messages can really brighten your day, and/or make you realize you can do more.

This year, I think I might like my most used words, in public and in private communication, to be words of love and encouragement. I also would like the words I most often read and ponder to be words that lead me back to this one certain thing: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, help us remember that technology doesn’t change the basic rules of living and caring you set down for us. Make our connections more than emojis and shout-outs to our favorite team. Help us use our words to share yours, and love and encourage all of our neighbors, near and far. Amen

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.