In the last days of the Civil War, the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia, fell to the Union army. Abraham Lincoln insisted on visiting the city. Even though no one knew he was coming, slaves recognized him immediately and gathered around him in large numbers. He had liberated them by the Emancipation Proclamation, and now Lincoln’s army had set them free.
According to Admiral David Porter, an eyewitness to the events, Lincoln spoke to the large gathering of people around him, and he said these words, “My poor friends, you are free. Free as air. You can cast off the name of slave and trample upon it. Liberty is your birthright.”
But, Lincoln also warned them not to abuse their freedom. He said, “Let the world see that you merit your freedom. Don’t let your joy carry you into excesses. Learn the laws and obey them.”
That is very much like the message Jesus gives to those whom He has liberated by His death and resurrection. His death on the cross has freed us. Jesus gives us our true birthright, spiritual freedom. But that freedom isn’t an excuse for disobedience. Instead, it forms the basis for learning and obeying God’s laws.
So, as we celebrate our freedom as a nation this week, let’s merit, or value our freedom by recognizing the responsibility that goes along with it. And as Christians, and followers of Christ, we have freedoms as well. But we cannot use that freedom to do whatever we want. We must continue to follow in God’s ways, and examine His word for the direction that we should go.
Enjoy your 4th of July, celebrate your freedom, value the freedom you have been given by God, but make sure that you also acknowledge the responsibility that goes along with freedom.