Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.
This is a verse that needs to be preached far and wide! This whole letter is speaking strongly against legalism, but this verse is the counter to keep the pendulum from going too far. There are those who indeed abuse the grace of God, ignoring, condoning, and even promoting various sins of the flesh while proclaiming that they are “better Christians” than those who seek to submit themselves to the way of life that God has laid out as best for us. The degree of ridicule that was heaped on Mike Pence for his personal rule of never being alone with any woman other than his wife was downright astounding. That degree of purity makes those who choose impurity uncomfortable! A major purpose for rules is to provide guidelines. A conscientious parent, not to mention psychologists, will tell you that children will invariably test their boundaries, but they will seldom go far past them. God’s rules aren’t to bind us, they are to protect us from the countless dangers that surround us. John hit the nail on the head when he said, “This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3) As Paul says, we are free. He told the Corinthians, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17) However, he also said this to the Galatians, and we need to maintain that balance.
This of course applies to me as much as it does to anyone. I have a personal policy of no alcohol, and the biggest reason for that is that in my position as a teacher and a pastor, many people look to me as an example. I personally have a very high ethanol tolerance (I once tried to get drunk on bourbon and didn’t succeed) but many people don’t. At the same time, I know that someone like me with very high tolerance is more in danger of chemical (as opposed to emotional) addiction, and I certainly want to avoid that. Alcohol is just one of many “pleasures of the flesh” that entice us. Gluttony is a constant danger, and the world today is steeped in sexual temptation. I am to remember and practice what Paul says here, not being legalistic but not being stupid, either. Like Mike Pence, I need to be wise and loving even when ridiculed. As a pastor, I deal constantly with people who have trouble in this area. I am to speak the truth in love, not condemning but not condoning either, always holding out the possibility of repentance and forgiveness, regardless of the sin.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for all You are doing on so many levels. We have a very full schedule today. I ask your anointing on the service here, and on the Coaching seminar this afternoon. May the Body of Christ be built up all around, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!