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Slaves to Love

by on October 23, 2013

You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

– Galatians 5:13-14

Our English translations tame the striking contrast of these two verses. Paul tells the Galatians that their calling is to “freedom,” yet in the same verse he then instructions them to make themselves “slaves” to one another in love. The word translated “serve” is the same word used in verse 1 of this chapter, where Paul says, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free…therefore do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” So which is it, Paul?

Both. The freedom Paul talks about in verse 1 is a freedom from any requirements that would say, “You must do xor in order to be reconciled to God.” Paul’s argument throughout this letter is that the only requirement is faith in Christ.

However, Paul then says we should not respond to that freedom from requirements by gratifying ourselves (in verses 19-21 he gives a list of what this looks like), doing whatever we feel like, regardless of the consequences. No, instead we are to use our freedom to serve others. There are no limits to how we can love one another. We no longer need to be concerned about our own standing before God, that’s been taken care of. We don’t have to waste our energies on those things that might make us right before God. Instead, we are free to focus our efforts on others, making ourselves slaves of the love that has been manifested in Christ Jesus.

Who is your neighbor that you can serve this week in the name of Christ’s love?

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