My friends, you were chosen to be free. So don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do anything you want. Use it as an opportunity to serve each other with love. All that the Law says can be summed up in the command to love others as much as you love yourself. But if you keep attacking each other like wild animals, you had better watch out or you will destroy yourselves. - Galatians 5: 13-15
If ever there was a timely and enduring lesson from Paul, it is this one. What a clear directive to Christ’s followers, today and always!
Since the beginning, Christians have squabbled over their interpretations of the Law: How to dress? What customs to follow? What kind of music to play in church? We focus on others’ actions, judging whether or not they are following the rules. Are they being Good? Well, definitely not as Good as I am! We look upon each other with disdain and think, “I’m a much better Christian than they are.”
In my research to prepare for writing this devotional, I was interested to read the word choices used in different translations of verse 15. In the Contemporary English Version, which I have copied above, the word used is “attacking.” The King James Version uses “bite” and “devour.” The Message uses “ravage.” All very unpleasant things to think about doing to our brothers and sisters in Christ!
Paul is crystal clear: If Christians continue to attack other Christians, we will all be destroyed. We have the potential to do the most harm to ourselves. He writes a reminder to all of us, that our freedom comes from Christ and should be used to serve each other with love. We don’t have to focus on finding our own way into God’s love. Christ did the hard part for us. All the little details about our customs and our arbitrary rules are meaningless. Only love matters. Just love others.
“Blessed are we, loving beyond our limits. Loving when it doesn’t make sense.
Loving without any lifetime guarantees. Loving when it might break our hearts. Amen” -Kate Bowler