It is a deep, life-altering truth that freedom is gained only by accepting limitations. A river with no banks is a swamp. A highway without traffic rules is a demolition derby. A country without orderly government is neither a country nor a safe place to live.
The notion that freedom is the absence of boundaries is a lie. In its worse form it says that God's laws are burdensome, style-cramping, fun-draining, fulfillment-limiting barriers. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Think about it. The discipline of practice produces freedom to play beautiful music. Devotion to training enables athletic achievement. Dedication to scholarship makes it possible to teach. Commitment to scientific learning produces new discoveries that enrich us all. Saving money leads to freedom from debt.
The author of today's passage has discovered the truth of this deep principle. Living by God's precepts produces freedom. Living apart from them, Jesus tells us, is the easy and broad road to a bad end.
Our choice is never between freedom and limits but only among which limitations we want. Living within God's limits will lead you to a wide place of freedom. Living apart from his limits will take you down an ever-narrowing path where there is no freedom at all at the end.
Jesus said he came to give us a rich and free life. If the son sets you free you will be truly free (John 8:36). Free to do what? Free to follow him from joy today toward joy forever!
Lord, I struggle with a desire to do only what I want. I sometimes even fear your limits. Help me to trust your promise that true freedom comes from following in your path. Amen.
Throughout this Day: Ask God... what new discipline do you want me to accept in your life? Is it to live more closely to your principles? Embrace his call to life and find increasing freedom.
Another helpful resource: How Discipline is Like a Microwave Casserole