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. (Gal. 5:1)
Growing up we had a demented cat who, among other things, always tried to escape from the house. One time it got out, and immediately climbed a tall tree. Hearing it wail, we all realized the cat had no idea how to climb back down. We tried every means to cajole it, but nothing worked. After two days I was appointed to get a tall ladder and rescue the cat. The cat fought me, but I managed to get it out of the tree. Later that same day, the cat escaped the house again and what did it do? It ran straight up that same tree again! Even though the cat had been freed, it immediately put itself in jeopardy again.
The Apostle Paul is warning us not to behave like my demented cat. We have been set free from our sins by the atoning work of Jesus Christ. Since Christ took from us the heavy weight of sin that we carried for so long, why would we seek to needlessly burden ourselves with those same sins again?
When I was stationed overseas, I remember speaking with someone from that country who told me she could always tell who the Americans were in a crowd. I asked her how. She said it was because Americans walk free: heads up, eyes straight, striding with confidence. Likewise, Paul says that Christians were designed to live and walk free. People should be able to look at us and see the difference that Jesus is making our lives.
We have been set free to live the abundant life that God has planned for us. So Paul tells us to stand firm in our faith and in our righteous living. Whatever we do with our freedom, let us avoid running back up the tree of sin.
God of Mercy, thank you for setting me free from my sins. Help me to stand firm in faith. Amen.