One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn as a disciple of Christ is that after knowing the freedom granted me in Christ comes a test of willingness to limit what I can do, not by law, but by the love of Christ.
Paul said while he was in a physical prison:
But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel, so that it has become evident to the whole palace guard, and to all the rest, that my chains are in Christ;
– Philippians 1:12-13 NKJV
Paul had very real physical limitations, but he didn’t see his physical chains or prison as keeping him from doing God’s will. He believed that NOTHING could limit him other than the love of Christ. Only the love of Christ could really constrain Paul to joyfully, prayerfully, and boldly remain in a terrible prison. God had sprung him free before. He knew God could now. But he believed that if there was anything holding him back from traveling the known world to spread the good news of God’s salvation in Christ, it was Christ’s love for the people right there in that prison, including the “whole palace guard.”
God is teaching me that these past 4 years. He’s freed me from loveless law that coldly, bitterly, and begrudgingly says , “I have to do this cause I’m a Christian. I have to submit to my husband cause I’m a Christian…. etc.” I could have walked a way. He certainly gave me a wide opened door. But His love binds me. The love that went to the cross while I was yet a sinner, and enemy of God, is my chain. I have to stay in the place where He has me ministering His humble, submitted love to my husband, and His nurturing, training love to my children, because how could I do anything else!? His love binds me to them!
The bond of “Poor me I’m stuck in this marriage, with these kids, and I have to stay because it’s ‘the law’,” will hold for awhile. But it’ll look for that “legal” way out. It’ll look for a way to set itself free. But the bond of the Love of Christ will be compelled to stay united in marriage and pouring its life out for the training and nurturing of its children, and even when there is a “legal” way out, it will not take it. The bond of the love of Christ is unbreakable.
It compelled Paul to see his physical chains as nothing, and it compelled Paul to see his freedom from physical chains in Acts 16 as nothing. Only the love of Christ held Paul firmly to his prison cell, or pulled him “bound” for Jerusalem where chains, beatings and torment awaited him.
Truly I have tasted of the love of Christ. Lord let me not forget and start seeing physical chains, or loopholes out… let Your love constrain me.
Is Christ’s love compelling you to stay where you are though you could go? Is Christ’s love compelling you to go where you go or are you just thinking, “This is the best option,”?