But whoever studies and knows God’s perfect law of liberty that brings true freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard and seen about themselves, but actually changing because of it—they will be blessed as a result of their honesty and obedience. Real faith, the kind that honors God, expresses itself: it reaches out to the homeless and alone, and works to keep itself pure in the midst of a godless world. (James 1:25-27)
Ever watch kids play when one of them makes up the rules as they go along? Their freedom with the rules has robbed the others of the freedom to enjoy the game, and usually of their good attitude. This in turn robs us parents of the freedom to talk with little Bobby’s mom or day while the kids play. That’s not perfect liberty, that’s chaos.
Ever driven with someone who apparently has no sense of the rules of the road? Stop signs are pause signs, speed limits are silly, merging is an opportunity to show people you aren’t scared, double yellow lines are mere suggestions, maybe even blood alcohol levels are irrelevant. Their freedom is robbing others of the ability to drive free from the worry of accidents. It might rob their family of money if they have to pay a fine. It might even rob somebody of their life. That’s not perfect liberty, that’s chaos.
Or perhaps you know someone or have experienced yourself what happens when addictive behaviors result from freely chosen decisions.
When your freedom destroys you and hurts those around you, you need a different definition of freedom. A true exercise of freedom simultaneously brings life to us and brings life others.
As followers of Christ we are freed from the bondage of sin. We are released into the “perfect law of liberty,” not into the perfect lawlessness of liberty.James’s perfect law of liberty does not mean, “Do what you want. You now have free access to the world without having to think about anybody but yourself. ” It means you had once been a slave to things that were breaking you down and ruining you and those around you, but God in his mercy has shown you how to be released from that bondage and live in such a way that God is seen in and through you.