“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm then and do not allow yourself to be burdened by the yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1).
“A man is enslaved to whatever has mastered him” (2 Peter 1:19).
Perhaps you have noticed that the world around us is quickly dissolving into emotional outbursts resulting in negative behavior. Interestingly, Paul offers the same invitation that Jesus uses in Matthew chapters 24-25 when Jesus speaks about the end times: Stand Firm. Paul again invokes the same phrase 3 times in Ephesians 6:10-18 – Stand firm as he lays out a strategy for success against the spiritual forces of evil waging war against our souls.
As you reflect on your own relationship with the world, what has mastered you in your life? Is it your environment? Politics? Opinions and reactions of other people? The need to be seen, acknowledged, and recognized? Power over others? The need to be liked, right or understood?
Is it your own behavior that has mastered you? My clients, who are seeking freedom from compulsive behavior, will often say, “I just can’t help myself.” This reveals a type of personal enslavement due to allowing some food, substance, situation, or person to master them over time, which in some cases results in a biological addiction and a leak in one’s identity to an exterior force. Whenever you give power over to an exterior element you render yourself vulnerable to rising and falling depending upon how that element shows up in your life leading to emotional and often times physical disability. Insecurity is the result of placing your security in anything but God.
The stress hormone is linked directly to your emotional state of mind and heart. Extended emotional stress often leads to personal enslavement, which usually walks hand in hand with unhealthy outlets. Stand firm and don’t allow yourself to be sucked into Satan’s trickery and wily attempts to hold you captive. A key to freedom in situations like this lies in your ability to accept where you are at, and a choice to take a step in a positive direction. Having a personal relationship with Jesus and giving the Holy Spirit more authority within you than the stressor outside of you opens the door to freedom.
A key take away from my Master’s program in Adult Education, Human Resources Development was Dannemiller’s formula for change which, offers food for reflection and personal empowerment: D x V x F x L > R. Dissatisfaction with your current situation or circumstance times a clear Vision of what you want times Forward action steps (clarity of focus leads to accuracy of response) times effective Leadership acumen MUST be greater than your Resistance to change in order for positive, effective and lasting change to occur (this can be applied to individual and team goals and initiatives). As you reflect on this formula, in relationship to your own life and desire for positive change, remember Ephesians 2:10: We are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works which He has prepared in advance for us to do. What is holding you back from stepping into your calling as a leader in this world, at this moment in time? Keep watch and stand firm. As we celebrate our freedom as a country this week. perhaps we can pause and identify those areas within our own life that hold us back from personal excellence, high integrity and leadership effectiveness within our own lives. You can’t give out in this world what you do not take time to develop within your interior life.
Action Step: Reflect on the following insights from a follower of Christ who linked her identity in and with Christ which empowered her to see all of the distressing disguises of Jesus in the midst of profound suffering and hardship: Mother Teresa:
“To become holy, we need humility and prayer. Jesus taught us how to pray, and He also told us to learn from Him to be meek and humble of heart. Neither of these can we do unless we know what silence is. Both humility and prayer grow from an ear, mind, and tongue that have lived in silence with God, for in the silence of the heart God speaks. If you are humble, nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. If you are blamed, you won’t be discouraged; if anyone calls you a saint, you won’t put yourself on a pedestal.”
Mother Teresa was not burdened by the yoke of slavery to the “shiny” objects that often hijack our calling along with our sense of worth and value.
Prayer: Dear God, Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I rekindle my ability to choose my responses to life remembering that I hold the key to victimization and empowerment by my free will. What I chose to think about sets in motion my reality. I am willing to take an honest look at those exterior elements in my own life which do not support the highest version of who I am in You and my ability with You to love my neighbor as myself. Grant me the grace to take a step in the direction of release and restoration this week along with the ability to tune into the necessary resources needed to support my intention for interior freedom from exterior vices.
You work within me both to will and to act according to your good purposes (Philippians 2:13). Shrinking back and allowing myself to be burdened by the yoke of slavery (Galatians 5:1) to unhealthy masters is not how you created me to show up in this life. I choose you and all things good, right, true, beautiful, excellent and praise worthy. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!