The words that tear us down — and build us up — begin with ‘You are’
Words have power. God used words to create the world.…
“Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go: Lest thou learn his ways, and get a snare to thy soul.”
— Proverbs 22:24-25, King James Version
Freedom is that God-given power we have to make choices — to choose where we go, what we do and with whom we will associate.
But the people we allow into our lives can have a profound impact on who we become. We must use our freedom wisely.
If you want to succeed in life, find a group of dedicated individuals who practice the moral standards they preach.
I remember the words one of my brothers in Christ, Clyde Sales, used to say on this subject. If your goal in life is to be an alcoholic, you can do three things to accomplish this goal: Find a group of people engaged in the practice of abusing alcohol, go associate with that group, and imitate their behavior. If you do these things, you will achieve your goal — and likely destroy your life and the lives of those around you.
Fortunately, this pattern also can be true for good behavior. If you want to succeed in life, find a group of dedicated individuals who practice the moral standards they preach. Associate with them, and model their positive behaviors. Chances are that you, too, will be known as a person of character, a success story in all the ways that matter.
All of us, from high school students and up, have seen examples of what happens when freedom is used to make bad choices. We know people who showed promise in athletics, in academics or in the arts who exercised their freedom in such a way that these gifts were wasted and never fully developed. Let’s use our freedom to maximize the abilities God has given each of us.
And let’s always be mindful of the liberating freedom we have in Christ.
It is liberating to know that Jesus has freed us from the bonds of sin. It is also liberating to know that, in order to obtain and enjoy this freedom, all we have to do is be obedient to the commands of Jesus we find in the Bible.
We must grow and nurture our faith in God, using wisely the freedoms he has bestowed on all of us.
“Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” The apostle Paul shares that truth in 2 Corinthians 3:17. The spirit of the Lord works in each of us.
Allow that spirit to work.
MICHAEL E. FLOWERS is a deacon of the Genessee Avenue Church of Christ in Columbus, Ohio. This devotional is adapted from a speech he gave to the church’s 2018 high school graduates.
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