Back in 5.1 Paul told the Galatians that it was for freedom that Christ had set them free and they should never again submit…to a yoke of slavery. Here in 5.13-15, he now warns them against using their freedom and liberty as a licence to sin.
For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law can be summed up in a single commandment, namely, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.” However, if you continually bite and devour one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.
Freedom is not to be used to pick and choose which yokes of slavery we wish to submit to (v.1), neither is it to be used to live a life of licentiousness and liberal indulgences (v.13). The happy middle, so to speak, as Paul writes is that the wonderful freedom and liberty on offer through Christ is to be used to serve one another through love, thereby fulfilling the spirit and principle of God’s law (Leviticus 19.18, Mathew 22.39, Luke 10.25-28).
This meant that the Galatian believers – and you and me – have the liberty to enjoy friendship and fellowship with believers of all backgrounds (3.27-28). There should be no division within the church based on individual preferences and peculiarities. Where there is division, there is strife (James 3.16) and as Paul writes, if you continually bite and devour one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.
The wonderful freedom and liberty on offer to us through Christ must not be used for our own self-centred choosings (v.1), neither must it be used for our own individual indulgences (v.13). Rather, as Paul writes to the Galatians, we ought to be taking this terrific freedom and putting it to use for the benefit of others (cf. Romans 13.8-10). Freedom in Christ is best experienced when loving and serving others (vv.13-14).
Rather than thinking “What do I need?” consider
“What do others need of me?”
Rather than thinking “Well, I am free in Christ so I will go and…for me”,
we ought to be thinking “Well, I am free in Christ so I will go and…for him/her”
Today then, how can you use your Christ-given liberty for the benefit of others?