Grace killers cannot be mildly ignored or kindly tolerated. You can no more allow legalism to continue than you could permit a rattlesnake to slip into your house and hide. Before long, somebody is going to get hurt. So then, since liberty is worth fighting for, how do we do it? Where can our personal grace awakening begin? I can think of four strong strategies:
Keep standing firm in your freedom. I’m reminded of what Paul wrote in Galatians 5:1: “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.” Stand your ground. Ask the Lord to give you courage.
Stop seeking the favor of everyone. This may be a stubborn habit to break, but it is really worth all the effort you can muster. If you’re in a group where you feel you are being coerced to do certain things that are against your conscience or you’re being pressured to stop doing things that you see no problem with, get out of the group! You’re unwise to stay in situations where your conscience tells you it is not right. That is nothing more than serving men, not God. I don’t care how spiritual sounding it may be. Stop seeking the favor of everybody.
Start refusing to submit to bondage. Call it what it is: slavery. It’s trying to be “spiritual” by performance. Think of how delightful it would be to get rid of all the anxiety that comes with the bondage to which you have submitted yourself; think how clean you could feel by being real again, or perhaps real for the first time in your adult life.
Continue being straightforward about the truth. That means live honestly. If you don’t agree, say so kindly but firmly. If you are the only one, be true to yourself and stand alone. When you blow it, say, “I blew it.” If you don’t know, admit the truth. It’s okay not to know. And the next time your kids spot hypocrisy, even though you may feel embarrassed, agree with them, “You know what, kids? You’re right. I was a first-class hypocrite. What you saw and pointed out is exactly right.” Tell them that. It may sound embarrassing to you now, but they will admire and respect your admission. And they won’t grow up damaged. Best of all, they will learn to model the same kind of vulnerability and honesty, even if you are in vocational Christian work . . . especially if you’re in vocational Christian work. Nobody expects perfection, but they do and they should expect honesty.
We need affirmation and encouragement to be all we’re meant to be, and because so many are rather delicate within, they need those who are strong to assist them in their fight for liberty. And so, if for no other reason, liberty is worth fighting for so others can breathe freely.
If fighting for liberty sounds too aggressive to you, perhaps too selfish, then think of it as fighting so others can be set free—so others can be awakened to the joys and privileges of personal freedom. Those who do that on real battlefields are called patriots or heroes. With all my heart, I believe those who square off against legalism should be considered the same.