They are easy words to say.
You hear them all the time. Preachers preach about it. Teachers teach about it. We hear the words with our ears, but need to experience them in our hearts.
Freedom and Forgiveness.
The words alone probably don’t evoke a strong reaction. However, I hope what God put on my heart to share with you today will.
It is the 4th of July. Today people will gather with friends and family to celebrate freedom. We will remember 239 years ago the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Among the most famous words in that document are found in the statement of human rights.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
The words send chills up and down my spine. However, this is not a history lesson. I am writing to encourage you, as parents and teachers, to think about another form of freedom that comes from dependence, not independence.
I am talking about a freedom that will allow us to parent our children with purpose so that they will grow into Godly men and women and to teach in a way that transforms the lives of our students.
I am talking here about freedom in Christ. This freedom brings joy that trumps the pursuit of any happiness this world has to offer.
The Declaration of Independence posits that we all have the right to pursue happiness. You know what? If we pursue happiness, we will never find it. It is the pursuit of meaning that leads to true joy. Discovering your calling and following Jesus by operating in your gifts, regardless of whether you work inside or outside of the home, is what brings joy in this life.
I would argue that it is when we begin the journey to pursue happiness through the things of this world that we get lost.
Happiness in this world is typically the result of human relationships. So is despair.
You see God hard-wired us to be in relationship with Him and His Spirit through His son. We in turn crave human relationships because it is the way we honor God through loving our neighbors as ourselves.
The problem is that we are all flawed. People hurt us and we hurt people. And that hurt is a reminder that we are all sinful human beings in need of a savior. Holding onto pain allows the enemy a victory over our heart. You see, spiritual warfare occurs in our minds. It is the product of our memory and experience with sin.
Freedom can only come when we allow ourselves to release our hardened hearts from the bonds of slavery that plague our memories. Perhaps you have hurt someone unintentionally. Perhaps you have been hurt.
Today as you celebrate our great nation’s freedom, I encourage you to examine your heart. Maybe God put someone in your life that needs to hear this message. Maybe you are holding onto something that hasn’t allowed you to experience the full freedom of Christ.
Give it to God. Today.
You may even have to make the most difficult choice in your life and practice forgiveness.
But you know what? Life here on earth is short compared to eternity with our Father in heaven. Don’t let Satan have the victory over your heart by holding onto something that God wants you to release.
I promise. If you release it in your heart, God will change your thoughts.
It may be difficult. But I can assure you – it pales in comparison to the forgiveness we received over 2,000 years ago when God allowed His son to be nailed to a cross and suffer so that we may live free.
He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32
So honor the ultimate sacrifice God made for you and me. Give that thing you have been holding onto over to God. Or help your neighbor do it.
And then kick back and celebrate true freedom as you watch the night sky fill with the bright colors that celebrate God’s victory in your heart.
Life is short. Your children and your students deserve the best you.