Would you consider yourself to be free? If you live in America, then freedom is one of the most deeply ingrained core values you have, but have you ever asked yourself if you’re really free?
Freedom is defined as the power or right to act, speak, or think as you want without hindrance or restraint. In that context, would you consider yourself free?
If I’m being honest, the answer a lot of the time is no.
The problem is, we often confuse choices for freedom. We believe that if we have choices or options to choose between, then that makes us free. But the truth is, our perceived freedom is really just a box of choices pre-defined by whatever controls us.
We are slaves to whatever controls us.
Jesus once quoted Isaiah chapter 61 where it says that he has come to proclaim freedom to the captives. He told the group listening to him that the prophecy from this piece of Scripture had been fulfilled by his coming. So he’s here to proclaim freedom to us.
It isn’t that he forces freedom on us. He proclaims that it’s available to us.
But it doesn’t mean it’s easy to be free. Freedom always comes with sacrifice.
One of my favorite lines from a mentor of mine is “discipline equals freedom”. The idea behind that is wherever we want to be free in our lives, we have to be willing to give up the pleasure being offered by other things that wish to master us.
If you want to be free to eat any food you wish, and you decide you would like to lose weight, but you can’t fight off the cravings to eat junk food, then you are a slave to your appetite. Therefore, you are not truly free to eat the way you want.
The biggest deception we put on ourselves is the illusion that we’re free when we’re actually just choosing the things that control us.
I can say that I’m free to “say whatever I want,” but the truth is, my temper controls me and I’m simply being a slave to it by giving it what it wants.
In John chapter 8, Jesus says, “If the son sets you free you are free indeed.” Jesus is talking to a group of Jews who are just now deciding to believe in him. His guidance to them is that if they continue to abide in his word and follow his instructions, sticking to his character and his heart, then they would know the truth and the truth would set them free.
But when he told them this, they pushed back. They told them they had been free already and that no one was their master.
They were just like we are today – they deceived themselves into thinking they were free.
But isn’t it odd that a group of people who saw themselves as free were such slaves to rules and religion? The Jewish leaders of Jesus’s time were, for the most part, bitter and judgemental, selfish and self-centered, and generally hateful towards anything that challenged their way of life. That doesn’t seem very free, does it?
The truth is, they were just like you and me. They found something that made them comfortable – which in their case was the structure of the rules they followed which made them feel good about themselves – and they became aggressive towards anything that challenged the master they had put over themselves.
We all have masters we prefer in our lives.
Laziness can be a master if you decide you love the ease and comfort that it provides more than the freedom of accomplishing what you know you could and should accomplish.
Fear can be a master if you decide that submitting to it keeps you comfortable and in a safe space rather than using your freedom to face what scares you in order to accomplish what you truly know you could and should accomplish.
The challenge for you and me today is to take an honest assessment of what we’ve allowed to master us.
2 Peter 2:19 says that we are slaves to whatever masters us.
Once we acknowledge what we’ve allowed to master us, we get to submit that to the heart and character of Jesus, and choose to submit to him as master over the things we’ve allowed to master us. The beautiful promise that Jesus gives us is that if we abide in him and stick with him in character and action, then he will make us free.
The truth always makes you free, but not simply knowing it in your mind. It involves being willing to walk away from the other would-be masters in your life to embrace Jesus as master.
Peter said in second Peter chapter 2 that the way we escape the depravity of the world is by knowing Jesus. That’s it. Knowing Jesus, who is the truth, is what sets you free.
You and I get to choose who our master is on a daily basis.
And here’s the thing: if you want your marriage, your family, your career, your friends, or your community to experience freedom, you can’t give what you don’t have.
If you’re wondering why you don’t seem to be making the impact you would like with your life, I challenge you to look at how free you are yourself. Because you can’t offer something that you don’t have.
If you’re not truly free, then people around you can’t be free.
Just like hurt people hurt people, only free people free people.
That’s a good enough reason to confront what masters you and find freedom for yourself. The world around us is depending on us to be Christ’s ambassadors, because we are God‘s plan for the world.
Jesus gives us freedom so we can offer it to others. But if you’re allowing something else to master you, then you’re allowing that thing to withhold freedom from not just you, but from the world around you.
So take an honest look at your life and be aware of the would-be masters who try to make you compromise on the freedom you’ve been given.
Then submit your actions to the character of Jesus, and watch the freedom gained by not only you, but by every person you encounter.