We were hiking up this long inclined trail to get to this beautiful overlook. It started to feel like we were on the wrong path. It was taking a long time to get there. We could see the top. We were finally almost there. Wait, there is something across the trail. Is that a hammock? Why of course, why would I be surprised? (She says sarcastically.) A young couple decided that hanging a hammock across the trail and snuggling in it was the appropriate place to relax. They are free to enjoy the park just like we are, but sometimes freedom crosses a line into self indulgence.
After we moved around them, my husband and I rolled our eyes and quietly expressed our discontent. I so wanted to say something to them directly. In my head it went like this, “Oh honey, let me get my camera out a couple in a hammock is exactly why we hiked all this way up here.” Okay, my sarcasm can sometimes run amuck. Mostly, I wish I had said something.
It’s that season when we celebrate the great freedoms we are afforded by many who have fought and continue to put their lives on line for such freedoms. It’s easy to translate that into meaning we are free to do whatever we want, whenever we want, but freedom doesn’t equal self indulgence.
That means 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—remember, you’ve been raised from the dead!—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. (Romans 6:12-14 MSG),
When I hold up my relationship with Christ as barometer for my self indulgent desires, I’m reminded of His ways. His ways are built on the fruits of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. This helps me make better choices, put others before myself, and hang my hammock on trees just off the trail.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1 NIV).
I know I will still have moments of struggle between my freedom in Christ and self indulgence. I won’t always get it right, but focusing on Him will always improve my odds. How do you express your freedom in Christ? How does that freedom keep you from self indulgence? Share your experience here and breathe life and bring hope to others.