Responsible freedom knows others have their own choices. So, you limit your freedom because love pursues the best for others.
As a Christian, you are entirely free, but that wasn’t always true. You were born with a nature that is dead (Ephesians 2:1) and does no good (Romans 3:12). You were born with a sin nature that only chooses evil. And that is slavery!
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is a slave to sin. - John 8:34 (NKJV)
But, our glorious Savior, Jesus Christ, gave us, His children, a new nature that is free to choose what is good by His power and grace or what is bad! Christ died for us to FREE us.
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. – Galatians 5:1
Saved for Freedom
What a great verse. You are FREE when you believe in Jesus Christ! And, used responsibly, freedom helps you see others differently – it changes your focus on others as well as yourself.
When responsible with your freedom, you accept that others are free to make their own choices. It doesn’t mean you must like or put up with those choices. But, you accept reality! They can choose whatever they want, whether good or bad. And, whatever their choice, it is not your job to make them change.
On the other hand, you accept your responsibility to share truth and insights that will help them live differently, but you leave their change up to God. You may offer other thoughts and ideas for them to consider, tell them the pros and cons of their choice, let them experience the consequences of bad choices, and help them recover if they want your help.
Live in Freedom
That is living in freedom! That is not allowing yourself to be controlled by anyone other than God.
Of course, that sounds like you disconnect from people. In a sense, that is true. Responsible freedom means you disconnect from their behavior, controlling your thoughts about them, not from your desire to hope for, pray for, and encourage them to better behavior and choices. In fact, responsible freedom even exhorts and rebukes them at some point. But be careful to walk in the Spirit as you do that. Otherwise, there is a marked tendency to sin.
Respect Their Freedom
Instead of treating people as machines with buttons to push, you respect their freedom to choose and be responsible for their own decisions. Again, it is God’s job to change them, not yours. You are more than willing to participate with God in helping them change, but you are not taking on the “Junior Holy Spirit” role in their life.
Additionally, responsible freedom impacts thoughts about yourself and your behavior. You now see more clearly how many options and choices you have rather than thinking you are powerless. In fact, you encourage, trust, and accept your freedom to make choices.
Without that insight, you miss how much freedom you have, creating a victim structure controlled by life, circumstances, and people – literally, anything will control you. But living in responsible freedom, you refuse to be manipulated or dominated by your circumstances and choose a life based on your values. Hopefully, those values are rooted in truth instead of lies. And you can find pleasure in doing right, not in trying to force others to do right.
Unfortunately, because of your sin nature, freedom is more often used irresponsibly. You are free to treat others improperly, manipulate and dominate them. One of the most remarkable misuses of your freedom is when you fear others will be irresponsible with their freedom. That drives you to try to limit their freedom. Indeed, there is a proper place and time for that, as you will see with the Freedom V.
Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. – C. S. Lewis
That profound statement applies to the individual, the family, and the government. Irresponsible freedom tends to see that I am free, but you cannot be trusted to be free.
In the same chapter where God tells you that He sent His Son to die for you to set you free, He tells you not to use your freedom irresponsibly.
For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. - Galatians 5:13
God urges you to be responsible, not irresponsible, with your freedom.
For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. - 1 Peter 2:15-16
Freedom for Me But Not for Thee
Freedom may be hard to accept, not as much for yourself, but definitely for others. You tend to push for maximum freedom for yourself but often minimize the freedom for others. It is like you are saying, “We can’t allow freedom! If we do, it would mean people would sin more!”
That is like Paul's statement in Romans 6:1. Please study it. You actually can sin all you want! You know that because we all do; otherwise, we would not be sinning. While those sins do not take away your adoption into God’s family, they inhibit your spiritual growth, closeness with the Lord, and, ultimately, your eternal rewards.
Worse yet, our sins say the death and resurrection of Christ was not a big deal when it is the greatest gift of all time and eternity. BUT, you are still free to do just that! It is being completely irresponsible with the freedom that God has provided.
Free to Sin All You Want!
Responsible freedom and irresponsible freedom is the difference between what you are able to do and what you are encouraged and invited by God to do. It’s the difference between can and will, between the possible and the beneficial. While freedom allows you to sin, it does not condone sin or bad choices. Paul is emphatic about that.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? - Romans 6:1
You can do whatever you want. You are free to do it. But why would you? Once dead and now made alive in Christ, why would you walk as though you were still dead? That is why this verse points you back to the fundamental decision in life – will you depend on God, or will you depend on something other than God?
And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace. - Romans 6:13,14
Depending on God means you present yourself as an instrument of righteousness, not unrighteousness. Responsible freedom pleases God; irresponsible freedom is often sin!
PURSUING THEIR BEST - Freedom in Relationships