Summary: The scripture passage today talks about how to live as free people, which fits right for the occasion of the Independence Day.
Galatians 5:1, 13-25
1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. 14 For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If, however, you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another.
The Works of the Flesh
16 Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
The Fruit of the Spirit
(Cp Col 3.12—13)
22 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.
There was a story about a couple of good friends—John and Joe. One day they were talking about the afterlife and wondering what it would be like. John said, “I hope both of us die at the same time, so that we can be in the eternity together.” Joe said, “Why don’t we make a covenant that whoever die first will try his best to communicate with the other.”
Years later, Joe died in an accident. John tried to keep all his senses open all the time to receive any signals from his friend who would be communicating with him from the afterlife. One day when John was in the marketplace, he heard someone calling him from behind. He turn around and saw a pony cart but no sign of any human being, so he turn back and prepared to walk away but he heard someone calling him again, “John!” Realizing that it was Joe’s voice, John turned around and tried to find him. Then he found out that it was the pony in front of the cart talking, “Hey John, it’s me, Joe!”
“Oh dear, you became a horse!” John exclaim. “Shih, yes I am your friend, Joe. I have seen you many times in the marketplace but I couldn’t talk to you because my boss was around. Now he is in the coffee shop as you just passed by, so it’s the right moment to talk.”
“Wow, I am so happy to see you Joe. How’s afterlife?” “It’s tough, as you see. I have to pull this cart everyday to the market carrying a heavy load of coals. I am being treated like a slave and I am sick and tired of it.”
“Wow, but Joe, since you can speak human language, why don’t you tell your boss that you can talk, so that he would give you a better job?” “Forget it John, you don’t know my boss. If my boss knew that I could talk, he would have had me shouting and selling coals, in addition to carrying them here. When you are enslaved, all your gifts and talents are enslaved.”
The scripture passage today talks about how to live as free people, which fits right for the occasion of the Independence Day. In Galatians, Paul compares the Law to “a yoke of slavery.” Like in a pony cart or bullock cart, a bridle or a yoke is to control the animal so that it will go where the driver wants it to go. The Law has the same function. It is to restrain human beings so that we will do the proper things. But, it is a form of enslavement because it limits our freedom.
Verse 1 said, “For the freedom of Christ as set us free” because Jesus talks about a different kind of yoke, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)