Saturday, July 4, 2009

7/5- Freedom

Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

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

Calvin: But we must carefully note that Christian freedom is, in all its parts, a spiritual thing. Its whole force consists in quieting frightened consciences before God—that are perhaps disturbed and troubled over forgiveness of sins, or anxious whether unfinished works, corrupted by the faults of our flesh, are pleasing to God, or tormented about the use of things indifferent. Accordingly, it is perversely interpreted both by those who allege it as an excuse for their desires that they may abuse God’s good gifts to their own lust and by those who think that freedom does not exist unless it is used before men, and consequently, in using it have no regard for weaker brethren…
Ivory and gold and riches are good creations of God, permitted, indeed appointed, for men’s use by God’s providence. And we have never been forbidden to laugh, or to be filled, or to join new possessions to old
or ancestral ones, or to delight in musical harmony, or to drink wine. True indeed. But where there is plenty, to wallow in delights, to gorge oneself, to intoxicate mind and heart with present pleasures and be always panting
after new ones—such are very far removed from a lawful use of God’s gifts. Away, then, with uncontrolled desire, away with immoderate prodigality, away with vanity and arrogance—in order that men may with a clean
conscience cleanly use God’s gifts. Where the heart is tempered to this soberness they will have a rule for lawful use of such blessings. But should this moderation be lacking, even base and common pleasures are too much. It is a true saying that under coarse and rude attire there often dwells a heart of purple, while sometimes under silk and purple is hid a simple humility. Thus let every man live in his station, whether slenderly, or moderately, or plentifully, so that all may remember God nourishes them to live, not to luxuriate. And let them regard this as the law of Christian freedom; to have learned with Paul, in whatever state they are, to be content; to know how to be humble and exalted; to have been taught, in any and all circumstances, to be filled and to hunger, to abound and to suffer need.

Calvin wrote much about Christian freedom. As I am writing this, fireworks are going off everywhere, and the Boston Pops are playing on my TV. God gives us great gifts and freedom. But we can abuse our freedom with greed with over-indulgence. We are called to “live in our station” that is, be satisfied with what we have and not always be coveting more. A great part of spirituality is to be happy with what we have. We are not free if we are slaves to fashion, or slaves to desire. We are set free if we have peace with God and peace within ourselves.

Prayer: Lord, may my heart be set free by your peace today. Grant our land your peace as well.

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