|Posted on August 9, 2019 at 4:10 AM|
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It’s been interesting since I came back from the Christian writers conference and retreat now that I am trying to get caught up. Nothing came to mind for my blog post this week. Ugh! How can I have something for you if my mind goes blank? So, I decided to take a break this morning to do my PraiseMoves workout and devotions together. Luke 4:16-19 stood out to me while I was doing the Scroll posture. During each segment dedicated to the Lord, my blog post became clearer to me. Isn’t it great how God speaks to us when we worship and honor Him with all of our being.
We are conditioned to want to look a certain way, to be thin, to be attractive, to be muscular. People often turn to gyms and diets to improve their appearance. It is hard to maintain a gym body. I know because I’ve been there. Keeping yourself strong, fit, and attractive like that takes dedication, usually five to six days a week for two to three hours a day of doing intense workouts in the gym. Honestly, most people don’t have that kind of time and energy. Not only that but for Christians, this self-focus pushes God out of the center of their lives. Appearance is crazy slave-driver. On the other hand, some Christians are hypercritical of those who take care of themselves and even those who don't. Being healthy and active is attractive, but it doesn’t always take center stage. Those who are hypercritical use the Bible verse that exercise only profits a little while exercise in godliness is more important (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1+Timothy+4%3A8&version=NIV" target="_blank">1 Timothy 4:8 ). Learning to be a good steward of your health brings a healthy balance of our physical and spiritual health. It brings freedom.
Read: https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+4%3A16-21&version=NIV" target="_blank">Luke 4:16-21 (cf. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Leviticus+25%3A39-43&version=NIV" target="_blank">Leviticus 25:39-43)
Focus Verse: It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 NIV
Jesus finished dealing with the temptations in the wilderness earlier in the chapter, then He traveled back to His hometown. On the Sabbath of Jesus’ return home, He went to the Synagogue, a Jewish custom He regularly observed. Evidently, Jesus had already attained Teacher or Rabbi notoriety. He received the scroll of the Prophet Isaiah to read out loud. Everyone present expected Him to explain its meaning for the assembly.
He began reading Isaiah 61:1-2 (ref. Isaiah 58:6). He read it well, then sat down stating this prophecy was fulfilled in their hearing. In other words, Jesus claimed to be the Messiah foretold by the Prophets. The concept of the Year of Jubilee in Leviticus 25:39-41 is implied in this passage. In the Jewish law given to Moses, the Jews were told to cancel debts and free slaves in the seventh year, the Year of Jubilee. At first, the people were impressed with how gracious, simply stated, His message was. A few of the people in the Synagogue realized what He said. His statement about being the Messiah was considered blasphemy, which was worthy of death according to Jewish law. They tried to throw him over a cliff, but He walked through the crowd to leave on his own. The people of his hometown rejected Him and His message of freedom.
In Galatians 3, Paul wrote to the Galatian church, a group of Gentiles who were told they had to follow Jewish Law to the letter. Paul’s message was a letter of correction in the statement, “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?” (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Galatians+3%3A1&version=NIV" target="_blank">Galatians 3:1). The yoke of slavery refers to bondage to ritual and following the letter of the law, not the spirit of the law. Peter addressed this same issue in https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Acts+15%3A10&version=NIV" target="_blank">Acts 15:10 by answering the Pharisees that the Gentiles were also brought to Jesus by faith. They should not be required to wear the yoke of bondage their Jewish ancestors weren’t able to bear. God gave them the Holy Spirit who cleansed their hearts and they are saved, just like the Jewish Christians. All who come to Jesus by faith are free from slavery to unbearable rules and rituals.
Bring It Home
We all have a background as sinners saved by God's grace. None of us is perfect. Sometimes we steal a look in the mirror to admire our fitness achievement or weight loss efforts. It’s pretty normal. When we live as free believers, though, we don’t become obsessed with how we look. We can handle working out and eating healthy without feeling horrible because we missed one workout or had a small treat. Freedom brings the ability to let go of addictions and the world’s standards of perfection in order to be the person God has created and redeemed through Jesus Christ. We are also free from casting judgment on ourselves and others for shortcomings. We don’t have to fix someone else but can step back to allow the Holy Spirit to convict those who are indulgent with unhealthy foods or avoid exercise. We can pray for them instead. In our freedom, because of Christ’s redeeming work on the cross, we are free to have a healthy respect for ourselves and love others as they are. Live as if you are in the Year of Jubilee!
Question for discussion: What difficulties do you face with your appearance, fitness level, or your own shortcomings? Do you find yourself critical of others who either take care of themselves or overindulge? How can your freedom in Christ free you from slavery to these issues?
May God bless you!