Living in Freedom
”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).
Friend to Friend
When I was in the twelfth grade, we had to do a senior term paper. For some strange reason, I did my research project on “The Recidivism Rate of Prison Inmates.” I know, I know. Why? For the life of me I can’t remember. But I did learn a few interesting facts about how often prison inmates who served their time and were set free, returned to prison again.
Let me give you some updated statistics. Among 300,000 prisoners released in 15 states in 1994, 67.5% were rearrested for a new offense within three years. Forty-nine per cent were reconvicted for a new crime. 51.8% were back in prison, serving time for a new prison sentence or a technical violation of their release, like failing a drug test, missing an appointment with their parole officer, or being arrested for a new crime.
For many ex-inmates, prison is more comfortable than being on the outside. They know how to function in prison, and being on the outside, living in freedom, is too foreign, too difficult, or too complicated. A life of bondage is easier.
I have seen the same among people who carry around heavy burdens of past mistakes or past hurts. Sometimes wounded people grow so comfortable with their wound they become unsure how to live without it. It becomes who they are, and they are afraid of the free world. Prison bars create a sense of security, because at least they know what to expect and very little is required of them.
Peter wrote of this tendency in pretty graphic terms. “Of them the proverbs are true: A dog returns to its vomit, and, A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud” (2 Peter NIV).
But Jesus came to set the captive free – to give abundant life! He wants us to be free of all the past mistakes and past hurts. Not only that, Jesus wants us to leave those shackles or burdens by the road and never turn around to pick them back up again. Paul wrote,”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). “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John ) NIV).
So let’s determine to not go back to the prison from which Jesus has set us free. Whether it is guilt over past mistakes, bitterness over a past hurt, or bondage to a past habit – we’re free in Christ and we never have to enter that prison cell again!
Dear Lord, thank you that you have set me free! I never want to enter the prison of guilt, shame, or bitterness again. I pray that you will fill me with Your Holy Spirit and give me the power to walk away from the past and press on toward the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. I pray that I will be all that you have created me to be and live the abundant life that you had planned for me all along.In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Now it's Your Turn
Why do you think that prisoners tend to return to jail?
What do you think needs to happen for them to start a new life and never return to their old ways?
How can you relate that to your life as a sinner set free in Christ?
For more on today’s topic see Ultimate Makeover: Becoming Spiritually Beautiful in Christ by Sharon Jaynes.
Girlfriends in God, Inc.