“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”Galatians 5:1, NIV
A crisp January morning in Florida required bundling up with a sweater, scarf, and hat. I briskly walked to an event where I was scheduled to volunteer.
I set myself near the start/finish line to cheer people on and encourage them. As the walk commenced, someone quickly caught my attention. In the distance—a little old man hunched over. He clenched his bright red walker as he shuffled along. He donned a big bulky army green jacket with dozens of patches all over. His silver hair sticking out of his black baseball cap filled with pins of planes and medals. His face looked sweet and innocent, yet weathered with life’s struggles.
“Good morning! Good to see you. You are doing a great job,” I said. He looked over at me, smiled, and said, “Thank you” and kept walking along. I couldn’t get this man out of my head.
As I stood there at the finish line, I saw that determined, sweet little old man again — and I felt compelled to learn more about him. I walked up to him and gently reached for his frail hand. “Sir…excuse me. I just want to say thank you. I want to tell you to thank you so much for your service to this country. I really appreciate it.”
Suddenly, this little old man stood straight up with pride and a great big smile filled his face. He lit up and began to share his story with me. He shared how he was a pilot and served in World War II. He remarked how many dangerous missions he was on.
“I am blessed,” he said.
“What’s your name?” I asked.
“Well, Nathan, I’m Christine…and it’s an honor to meet you. I’m so glad you came today. Is there anything I can pray for you for?”
“Whatever you like,” he replied.
But then he paused, cleared his throat and said something I’ll never forget.
“Young lady – the greatest freedom we have is our freedom in Jesus Christ. Before I knew Jesus, I was angry and depressed. Jesus changed my life. He is everything and I lean on Him and trust Him daily. It’s because of Jesus I am here today. He protected me in those battles. I’m thankful for our freedoms in this country but I’m thankful for the freedom I have in Christ.”
In Galatians 5:1, Paul shared, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.”
Paul was writing to a group of Christians in Galatia (modern day Turkey). A little bit of history – Paul had planted this church in Galatia and many had come to know Christ. But after he left, some men came into the church preaching a “false” gospel. They were telling people they needed to be more “religious,” to do good works, and be circumcised in order to be saved.
When Paul found out, he passionately wanted to correct what was said and restore the gospel. He wanted to help the Galatians know and embrace the truth — that when you put your faith in Jesus alone, you are saved and forgiven by God for all your sins. It was believing in what Jesus did on the cross and that salvation is a gift—by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8, 9).
We are not saved by our good works. Those who continue to follow the law, in order to be right before God, are actually still slaves in their own sin and are not free. But Paul declared — those who come to God by faith in Jesus Christ are finally set free.
We are FREE because of JESUS.
Today, as we look back on the 4th of July holiday, let’s take a moment to be thankful for our freedoms in this country. Take some time today to pray for those serving to protect our freedoms.
But let’s also remember the encouragement from the Apostle Paul and the sweet reminder from my new friend, Nathan. Our true freedom comes from knowing and believing in Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Father, thank you for today. Independence Day reminds us of all those who have sacrificed for our freedoms. Please help us not to take those freedoms for granted and bless and protect those who are serving in the military and their families. Thank you for the freedom we have to worship you and share the good news of the gospel. Father, thank you for sending your Son, Jesus, who paid the ultimate price for our sins. Jesus’ death on the cross sets us free. And Lord, I pray that if someone doesn’t know you and hasn’t experienced that freedom – that You would touch their hearts right now and that they would cry out to you and say, “Jesus, I know I am a sinner. I believe You died on the cross for my sins. Right now, I turn from my sins and open the door of my heart and life. Please Lord, help me. Lead me. Guide me. I make You my Lord and Savior and I want to know You more. In Jesus’ mighty name, Amen!
I’m praying for you that God would bless and encourage you today!