Last Memorial Day I wrote a meditation titled “Freedom Isn’t Free.” I looked at the price that was paid by the members of our Armed Forces for the physical freedom we enjoy in this nation and the spiritual freedom purchased for us by the blood of the Lamb. Today, in honor of our Independence Day celebration, I’d like to offer a word of encouragement—this time about our choice of freedom.
If serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your forefathers served beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15)
The Bible makes it crystal clear that the freedom we experience every day in this life is a choice . . . and the choice is ours! Every choice we make brings consequences with it. Some matter little; some matter more; and some matter most. Joshua outlined the choice that matters most.
When was the last time serving the Lord seemed undesirable to you? You might say, “I don’t remember such a time.” OK, let me ask the question this way: when was the last time you went through a bout of man-centered anger? Impatience? Anxiety? Selfish ambition? How about serving the god of worldly success? Do remember any times like that?
Every time serving the Lord seems undesirable, we undermine the freedom Christ purchased for us on the cross; we create chains of bondage that bind us to unbelief. Any choice we make to run after something smaller than Jesus makes it clear that we simply don’t trust Him to deliver on His promise that He is entirely sufficient to meet our every need. We are to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,” and trust that “all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 5:33).
We have the choice, moment by moment, to choose the God who is: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob . . . or the god we want. When we choose the god we want we shrink the size of our life down to the size of our life . . . and that is no life at all! To be sure, we may get exactly what we were after, but in doing so we may have missed the one thing we were designed by God to truly need . . . or perhaps I should say the One we were designed by God to need!
So as you enjoy your time with family and friends celebrating Independence Day, prayerfully consider whom you will serve. How easy it is for us to confuse life with death and freedom with slavery when we are sitting on the throne of our lives! Why? Because when we create functional saviors for ourselves, we leave no room for God.
Our sinful nature will always push us to choose something smaller than Jesus. The daily problem with sin is that it always seeks to move us away from our Savior and toward the self. And there is no freedom to be found in serving the self! It is bondage of the worst kind when we place self on the throne of life. It is living a life that promised freedom but in the end delivers only slavery. Solomon gave us this stark warning, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death” (Proverbs 14:12).
On this side of the grave, freedom is a choice—a choice we must make moment by moment. But one day the conflict with sin will end and the need for choosing will be over. There is a time coming when there will be only one choice and you will always choose it. And you will experience a freedom—an independence—unlike any freedom you have ever experienced, a freedom that can only be found living in the presence of the everlasting God.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!