Letting Go & Holding On: Why You Need Both to Move Forward
What does freedom for your life look like to you?
To me, freedom looks like a clean slate, white and unblemished. It looks like not feeling the need to prove myself. It looks like big-time laughter, moment-by-moment joy each day, loving those who don’t love me and walking confidently in whatever direction God leads me.
Freedom is possible. Galatians 5:1 says that it is “for freedom Christ has set us free.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” Freedom is possible, but knowing it’s possible and living in it are two very different things.
This is what I love—in Galatians 5:1, Paul (the writer of Galatians) doesn’t tell us Christ has set us free, then drop the microphone and walk off stage. He immediately follows the mic-drop moment with, “Make sure that you stay free, and don’t get tied up again in slavery to the law.”
First off, that little “make sure that you stay free” phrase tells me freedom doesn’t just happen. Yes, ultimate freedom in Christ was given to us and we have total access to it…but living there in that freedom, that requires work. It requires that we make sure we stay free.
Second, Paul finishes up this sentence telling us not to get tied up again in “slavery to the law.” Another translation says not to get “trapped under the law.” I think that’s a big statement, and I think in today’s world it’s saying—among other things—don’t get trapped under rights and wrongs, carrying the weight of pleasing people and worrying about what people think. Why? Because Christ called us to freedom, not to a list of do’s and don’ts.
Here’s where I’m going with this: freedom is why Jesus came. He did what He did to set you and I FREE. We accept that freedom when we accept Jesus, and then we have a certain level of responsibility to begin to recognize the things in our world that are compromising the freedom He died for. And one of the things that fall into the being in “slavery to the law” category is the idea of withholding forgiveness. Forgiveness of others. Also—forgiveness for yourself.
Guilt sets in over that thing you did, the thing you should’ve done and didn’t do, what you couldn’t accomplish or maintain. As you sit there, finally too tired to silence your heart, your motives peek sheepishly out and you’re faced with a very simple reality: you’ve hurt God. Probably others. Definitely yourself.
You down a Red Bull and pick the pace up so you don’t have to deal with it. You don’t want to think about God being mad at you. You cry out with excuses and defend your case to your Creator. You numb yourself with material things and tell yourself it’s no big deal. You believe you deserve God’s anger, so you make sure to punish yourself with unhappiness and distance from others and maybe even self-harm.
It’s easier to hide, run or argue than to accept forgiveness. Because God isn’t big enough to look past what you did or didn’t do. There’s no way He can look past whatever that thing is in your life.
And that’s slavery. Not receiving forgiveness into your life…that’s slavery.
Those things you hold onto create a roadblock keeping you from the incredible and eternal freedom Christ has generously poured over your life. You subject yourself to slavery day after day in a thousand and one ways, thinking God can’t see through it, love through it or reach you in the middle of your mess. But it’s for freedom that Christ has set you free. Nothing less.
What lies are you believing today that keep you from allowing God’s forgiveness to radically cover your life?
What I want to speak over you (I guess, write, over you) is that Jesus came for you and His love IS enough to provide a clean slate, white and unblemished…every day. He’s overcome every struggle and sin and distraction you will ever face.
Let go of the guilt, the doubt, anything stopping you from believing God has entirely forgiven you. Step into His promise of freedom and make sure you stay there. Grab onto freedom with everything you’ve got.