Mind the Gap Between Freedom & Wisdom
There is a gap that exists between what we are free to do and what is wise to do. And this gap between freedom and wisdom impacts all of the arenas of our lives.
For those of us who have placed our faith in Jesus, He has set us free, right?
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
– 2 Corinthians 3:17
It is for freedom that Christ set us free.
– Galatians 5:1
But it is always important that we read God’s Word in context:
- What do the verses on either side of this verse say?
- What does this verse mean in light of the book in which it appears?
- How do I interpret this verse as a part of the larger story of the Bible?
The complete verse from Galatians 5:1 says,
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be dragged down again by a yoke of slavery.
We wrongly define freedom if we think it means that we can do anything we want to do.
Those who have struggled with alcohol addiction in the past are certainly free to go to a bar and have a soft drink, but it may not be wise for them to subject themselves to an environment where they are surrounded by alcohol.
For me, I am a person who has struggled with maintaining purity in my thoughts. So, while I have the freedom to watch, Game of Thrones, for instance, it’s not wise for me to watch shows like this that lead me back to a place of struggling. That freedom is incompatible with my soul’s health. And so, for wisdom’s sake, I steer clear of that freedom.
Think for a moment: what’s something you are free to do, but that isn’t wise for you to do? We all have different life experiences and weak spots, so we all might have a different answer for that. But that which we are free to do is not always wise to do.
On this note, Paul wrote,
Someone may say, “I am allowed to do anything”—but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything.
– 1 Corinthians 6:12 (NLT)
We wrongly understand freedom if we think it to mean we can do anything we want to do. Any freedom that leads us into bondage is not true freedom.
Within the same letter as before—later in 1 Corinthians—the same author writes,
“I have the right to do anything,” one says—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive.
– 1 Corinthians 10:23 (NIV)
Not everything builds up. Not every free choice we make edifies and strengthens. Some of our freedoms actually tear down. They weaken us. They can destroy. And so, such freedoms are unwise.
Biblical scholar Eugene Peterson writes this about these verses from 1 Corinthians:
Just because something is technically legal doesn’t mean that it’s spiritually appropriate. If I went around doing whatever I thought I could get by with, I’d be a slave to my whims.
We wrongly understand our freedom in Christ if we think it to mean we can do anything we want to do.
True freedom, as defined by the Word of God and the life of Jesus, can only exist within the bounds of holy wisdom and Christian love. Once we go beyond those boundaries, we release our freedom in Christ, and we subject ourselves again to slavery.
You must not give sin a vote in the way you conduct your lives. Don’t give it the time of day. Don’t even run little errands that are connected with that old way of life. Throw yourselves wholeheartedly and full-time into God’s way of doing things. Sin can’t tell you how to live. After all, you’re not living under that old tyranny any longer. You’re living in the freedom of God. So, since we’re out from under the old tyranny, does that mean we can live any old way we want? Since we’re free in the freedom of God, can we do anything that comes to mind? Hardly. You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in His freedom!
– Romans 6:12-18 (MSG)