Do you believe that people are free to act however they want? You will not answer that question correctly unless you understand freedom. Hopefully, as you learn the material in GR8 Relationships, you will see the power of freedom, especially for relationships.
But that question is a difficult one for most people to answer correctly. Try it sometime. Ask your friends that question, and most people will say no. If you wait a little, they may say yes after they consider reality.
(Of course, there are clear examples and great reasons to limit others’ freedom that will be discussed later. For now, entertain the thought that you may be actually or mentally denying others’ freedom.)
People Are Free - You Don't Give Freedom
The first command in Genesis 2:16-17 shows how God created Adam and Eve with the ability to choose, implying freedom. That built-in freedom is often ignored as if it doesn't exist. That creates so many problems in relationships. But people are free to act however they want.
So, here is a way to see how you think about whether people are free or not. When you learn about freedom, you may hear yourself say, "I am giving them freedom."
Is that true? Do you give people freedom?
Those words imply you do not understand an essential element of freedom. You can only give freedom when it is actually in your control. For example, you can give someone a goal to achieve, unlock their cell door, or give them your automobile keys to use your car. They are free to ignore the plan, the unlocked cell door, or the use of your vehicle.
But that does not give them freedom in the way we discuss it. People are free to act however they want because they are already free. That isn't something you give. People are born free to choose righteousness or unrighteousness (Romans 6:13).
Other people's freedom is something that you ACCEPT as true, simply because it is!
If you ignore the wording difference, you continue to live with the misconception that you can remove their freedom. And yes, you can physically restrain them, but they are still free in their mind to make choices about their life and attitude about being restrained.
Do My Actions Show That I Believe People Are Free?
You probably do not realize how much you try to control other people.
For instance, are you mad at them without telling them? Are you discouraged, angry, depressed, or resentful when “They just don’t get it”? Are their poor values, bad decisions, or wrong thinking causing you to worry and fret? Perhaps you think, “They don’t realize how bad ‘that’ is and what ‘that’ does to them, the kids, and others (and ME)! Or, “If they don’t get this corrected, [insert: something terrible] will happen to them (and maybe even reflect on me)!”
Thinking that way denies the reality of their freedom to misbehave, even sin. They may not experience consequences now, but God is just, and there will be consequences in eternity. Of course, most of the time, we control people try to limit others' freedom, so they will not experience the consequences. We are good people up to no good.
And, too often, you control other people’s lives for the wrong reason - your own personal gain. If they change, you can relax and be happy – at least for a while. What you miss is they now control you!
I'm Only Concerned
You claim, “I’m only concerned. Isn’t that okay?”
If you answer yes, you may see sin in another person’s life, knowing sin has consequences. If that is the case, you can hope, pray, encourage, and perhaps exhort and rebuke. You do those things because you know God has asked you to “speak the truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15). You are not doing this to be the Jr. Holy Spirit in their life – you do it because it is pursuing their best.
Or, your answer is no; it is more like you must make them change. If true, that’s where their behavior controls you. You are alive and well in the Left Circle. You may have the right motive, hoping they change so they don't experience the consequences of their sin, but you see this as your responsibility – not God’s and theirs – to change their behavior.
Be careful and be objective. Your ME flashing will remove objectivity every time.
Satan and your sin nature can take the beauty of grace and freedom and distort it. Please don't let that happen.
PURSUING THEIR BEST - Freedom in Relationships