13 For, dear brothers, you have been given freedom: not freedom to do wrong, but freedom to love and serve each other. 14 For the whole Law can be summed up in this one command: “Love others as you love yourself.” (Galatians 5:13-14 TLB)
Charles Kingsley reminds of us a great truth: "There are two freedoms - the false, where a man is free to do what he likes; the true, where he is free to do what he ought." In which manner of freedom are you living today? This is a tough question, for it requires intense honesty and true depth of character to really acknowledge one is living by a sense of entitlement - doing what one wants rather than what one ought. There are days I'd rather be fishing in the cool waters of a summer stream than to be sitting behind a desk trying to solve problems. The only problem I really want to consider is what the fish are biting on! It isn't always about doing what we like - because what we ought to do beckons.
Freedom isn't a place of inaction, though. What we ought to do can often be interpreted as "if I had my wits about me, I ought to do...." We don't see it as pressing enough to actually move us into action. It is a thing we 'think about' as good to do, but we don't do it. It is kind of like exercising - we ought to do it, but our "ought to" and "want to" don't always match up! Freedom is to go beyond our 'want to' and begin to affect our 'need to'. "Ought" is a word that puts a person under moral obligation or duty to some action. It isn't about 'thinking' good thoughts - it is about 'doing right actions'.
This is why Paul reminds us our freedom is designed to bring us into a place of loving and serving one another. It isn't about what we want as much as it is about it is the other guy! Freedom isn't just personal - it is corporate, as well. It is to affect the entire community in which you live - not just your small self. True freedom looks beyond the things that will benefit us to learning how it is we can benefit others by what we have been given or experienced. When we begin to live by a different standard of 'moral obligation' we often observe just how desperately others need to experience the freedom we have been enjoying ourselves.
When our likes and 'ought' align, this is a powerful place for us. We begin to move in such a sense of freedom and joy that it isn't 'painful' to serve and we don't hesitate to love. Why? It isn't about us 'needing' any longer - it is about the need of others now. Freedom isn't just a 'personal thing' - it involves all those around us who haven't experienced it yet. If you are like me, you probably need your 'ought to' to match up with your 'I will do' a little more often. If that is the case, you and I are on this journey together. Our freedom journey begins with loving others and finding ways to serve them. How is it we can take a step on this journey together today? Just askin!