Grace Immersion

Bonus Day 58

Live Free!

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. Galatians 5:13

When my wife and I lived in the alpine resort town of South Lake Tahoe we were renting a small house from the executive chef of the fanciest, most expensive dining option in town. His restaurant was perched at the top of one of the high-rise hotels on the south shore, with a stunning view of the lake on one side and the mountain ski resorts on the other.

Once a year, he would give us a lavish gift: We could go to the restaurant, get the best table (which he reserved for us) and then choose anything from the menu, in any amount, as much as we wanted, and he would pick up the entire tab! We could have salmon, prime rib, calamari, escargot, caviar — anything! All at once! But one year, just to test his offer, when the waiter came to take my order I said, “This all looks great, but I would like to go into the kitchen and order something special!” So he took me to the chef and I said, “Special order: I would like to eat… your garbage. Your kitchen scraps. Put ’em on a plate and send ’em to me!”

No, I didn’t really do that. I’m not completely nuts! Although I was free to order anything, it would have been beyond foolish to eat garbage!

Well, for a Christian, life is like a menu in a fancy restaurant. Under grace you’re free to choose whatever you want. There are a lot of amazing options on the menu! But if you choose to eat the garbage, grace does not prevent you from getting sick! Grace means you are set free. It does not mean that there will be no natural consequences of your foolish and self-destructive behaviors.

In today’s verse Paul warns about eating the garbage. This kind of “garbage eating” has been going on ever since grace was first preached. Paul had to address this in Romans: “Shall we sin because we are not under the law but under grace? By no means!” (Romans 6:15). Jude says, “godless men… change the grace of our God into a license for immorality” (Jude 1:4). Peter put it this way: “You are free… but don’t use your freedom as an excuse to do evil” (1 Peter 2:16 [NLT]) Why not? Well, Peter says, because “you are a slave of whatever controls you” (2 Peter 2:20b).

Sin makes people slaves, whether it’s sexual sin, substance abuse, laziness, gossip, anger, or anything else. You become a servant to it, following your master around as it leads you on a leash. You lose control over your own desires and behaviors. Then your master begins to rob you… of your health, your reputation, your relationships. It robs you of time. It robs you of freedom. It robs you of motivation. As surely as eating garbage would bring you stomach pain, sin leads to slavery.

Now that you are free spiritually from the slavery of performance-oriented religion, why rush right back into another kind of captivity? Stay free!

Peter says “you are a slave to whatever has mastered you.” What has mastered you?

Thanks God that He has set before you a lavish feast of life, by His grace. Ask Him to help you delight in the many positive options, and not to eat the garbage!