“What would you do if you won the lottery?” Researchers posed that question to 2,500 adults and among the top responses were:
- Purchase an RV.
- Have a personal hairdresser. (In the RV?)
- Hire a chauffeur. (For the RV?)
Yes, ma’am. Thankfully, there were a few more altruistic answers sprinkled in as well. But it seems humans have a fondness for spending money on themselves—and very large vehicles.
The tendency to use any kind of freedom we’re given for our own desires isn’t new. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church in Galatia:
“For you have been called to live in freedom, my brothers and sisters. But don’t use your freedom to satisfy your sinful nature. Instead, use your freedom to serve one another in love.”
As we celebrate freedom on the 4th of July, the last phrase in that verse keeps repeating in my mind and heart: Use your freedom to serve one another in love.
We have a lot of freedom in America. Freedom of speech. Freedom to worship. Freedom to do what we believe leads to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” And those freedoms weren’t won in a lottery. They were bought with the blood of soldiers. And the freedom Paul spoke of was bought with the blood of our Savior.
Because we’re human, it’s easy to be selfish with our freedom. So we speak words that tear others down. We worship false idols of fame and pleasure. We pursue whatever we think will make us feel better — and heaven help the person who gets in our way.
So maybe today it’s time to pause and remember the highest, best freedom: Love.
Let’s only speak words that make souls stronger. Let’s worship the God who gave everything for us. Let’s stop our pursuits and take time to serve the least of these.
Paul also writes, “Therefore if you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from His love, if any common sharing in the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and of one mind. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others” (Philippians 2:1-4).
That’s what true freedom looks like. You won’t find it in a snarky Facebook post. Or in the rant of a “religious” leader tearing others to shreds. It won’t be at the table with gossip. Because the irony is: when we stop loving, we give up our freedom. We become entangled in our own words and hatred until we can’t breathe, can’t see, can’t even drive our own RV.
Yes, July 4th is a time to celebrate an important historical event. But let’s also think about what real freedom means for us right here, right now. We don’t need to win the lottery to send out a little more love into the world, like a firework lighting up the dark.
This article is written by Holley Gerth and first appeared on (in)courage here.