License to Love
Read This Week: Galatians 5
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” – Galatians 5:7-8, 13-14 NIV
One of the most common misunderstandings about the grace of God that we receive through salvation in Christ is that it gives individuals a license to do whatever they want. That we can do anything because we know it is covered by God’s grace and will be okay in the end.
Paul seeks to combat this negative way of thinking about grace in Galatians 5 and even says that this truth and persuasion does not come from the one who calls you but from people who are trying to knock you off course in life. People that want you to abandon true spirituality for legalism. People that want to control you.
This passage makes it clear that God’s grace is not something that supports our sin nature but instead makes us more like Christ. His grace doesn’t provide us with a license to sin, but with a license to love the way that Jesus did. It gives us the ability to bring glory to God by expressing His love in a way that we are incapable of apart from Him.
Grace also doesn’t make us free to live how we want at the expense of others. Rather, the grace received through the cross gives us the freedom to love others as God wants. He writes in verse 13, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”
Love takes the place of the law and sin. We see in this passage that the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. Grace doesn’t permit sin or provide a chance to break all rules, it allows us to love and serve. If we love people, we won’t take advantage of them, mistreat, or abuse them. If we see grace as a license to love, we won’t steal from people, lie about them, envy what they have or intentionally harm them in any way.
Love in the heart of man is God’s substitute for legalism. Even when laws are present, people still mistreat one another, but when God’s spirit takes over our hearts, we are free to love others no matter what. Grace is the license to love. We should use it freely.
This week, God gave me a song called, “Sharing the Earth”:
Sharing the earth, sharing the earth
Sharing the earth with our Father
Sharing his creations with us
What a wonderful, wonderful world it can be
All the kindness, peace, gladness and love
Sharing the earth, sharing the earth
Sharing the earth with our Father
Thank you, God, for your Holy Spirit. I love walking with and being guided by the Holy Spirit.
I appreciate you sharing this from your heart, Alma. Truly, it is a wonderful thing to be alive and experiencing both the Creator and all that He created for us by His good pleasure. Not only do we get to enjoy an eternal relationship with God, but we get to enjoy all He made on a daily basis. What a privilege and joy that is!
Your song made me think of one that I’ve come to love in the last year called, “So Will I” and it goes something like this:
God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time
With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light
And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born
In the vapor of Your breath the planets form
If the stars were made to worship so will I
I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made
Every burning star
A signal fire of grace
If creation sings Your praises so will I
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” The Message
Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness, gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things, there is no law [f]that can bring a charge].” AMPC
Do you know what God loves and blesses His heart as our Father? To desire, to want to, to choose to live in His presence more and more every day. Because it will help you and me to grow every day to be just like Jesus. Because Father God loves us so much, and He loves it when He sees His children wanting to grow in His fruit and choosing to live in His ways.
How? You have to be asking the Holy Spirit to help you all the time. If we learn to live by the Holy Spirit, then you will be walking by the Spirit. It does take work but the results are wonderful because you will have peace in your life, you will feel His peace.
In your relationship with God, it’s your responsibility to remain free from the world’s ways. When you choose a life as a child of God, The Holy Spirit lives in you and I to help us to be led and guided by the Holy Spirit to make the right choice, to get back on track with God when we didn’t make the right choice, to get better at being kind, being loving towards others, you learn to have patience, and so on…
God loves us where we’re at but He does expect us to be willing to grow every day because we get better and at being just like Him. God is saying to you and me, “Choose My Love, walk in My Love, seek Me with your whole heart because I love you and I will never leave you or forsake you because I love you!”
I’m thankful for your deep insight and commentary on these two passages from Galatians 5, Heidi. As I read your post, I couldn’t help but fixate on this line: “The Holy Spirit lives in you and me to help us to be led and guided by the Holy Spirit to make the right choice, to get back on track with God when we didn’t make the right choice, to get better at being kind, being loving towards others, you learn to have patience, and so on.”
It reminded me that the license to love given to us through God’s grace is not intended to be a one-hit-wonder. It is a continual license and empowerment to make the right choices, course correct our lives and express the fruit of the spirit every day. The license never expires or runs out because of the power of the Holy Spirit. It is always available and active to us no matter what. We can apply it to every challenge, scenario, relationship or business in life. That is hopeful and joyous.
Thank you, God, for setting me free from the ways of the world and my carnal nature. I don’t have to get off track, because I am filled with Your Holy Spirit, guided and directed by the Holy Spirit and not a slave to sin or my carnal nature.
Greater are You God, than he that is in the world. Thank you, God, for your love.
Thank you, Ken, for the reminder that “greater is He that is in me than he that is in the world.” I need and I think all believers need to hear that truth on a regular basis so we can truly live with a license to love God and others through His grace. So we can live like more than conquerors instead of those defeated by sin and our nature.