Set Free to Be!

Rev. J. Loren Russell

Galatians 5:13 NIV
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.”

For those of us whose families are of African American heritage, Juneteenth is an annual reminder of the horrors of slavery, and the day the slaves in Galveston, Texas learned they had been set free…, two years earlier.

It was worded in the Emancipation Proclamation, “That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free…”

According to the document, not everyone was set free. Only slaves that were in the states that were in rebellion to the Union were emancipated. When the 13th Amendment was enacted, it did not abolish slavery either. It says in part, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Slavery is still legal in the penal system.

Here is my dilemma; why isn’t this information more widely known, and why would anyone choose to go back into slavery?

In the text, the recipients of this letter had been set free. The author reminded them that they had been set free from legalism (the Law of Moses) by their belief in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Verse 14 says the law is fulfilled when “you love your neighbor as yourself.” They now have the freedom to serve one another in love.

Some were abusing their freedom by indulging the flesh but were encouraged to serve one another humbly in love. Spiritual freedom gives us the freedom to love others as we are loved by God, unconditionally. Freedom from slavery puts us in a position to achieve our highest level of self-actualization. Both physical and spiritual freedom have been given to us. We should combine them so that the senseless violence will vanish from our communities, and mutual respect and love replaces it.

If your ancestors were set free through the Emancipation Proclamation, or if you were freed from sin by your faith in the sacrificial death of Christ, you can use your freedom to indulge the flesh or serve one another humbly in love. You have been set free to be…, whatever you choose. Choose wisely!

Be Blessed and Happy Father’s Day!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at Goodwill Baptist Church and is the spiritual leader of the Evangelical Church of God, both in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company/J Loren R Consulting, LLC for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting (718-328-8096) and is the executive producer and host of “Matters of Faith: The Radio Show” on Monday nights from 8:00 – 10:00 PM on the Matters of Faith YouTube Channel and Facebook Live. Be sure to ‘Friend’ us. Email us at Order your copy of Matters of Faith: The eBook at

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