Happy 4th of July! I always like this holiday for lots of reasons. I love all the summer festivities—watermelon, peaches, fireworks, lingering sunsets, fresh air and lovely porch time. This holiday also reminds me of the sacrifices that go with having lavish freedoms and the liberty to make lots of personal choices. I like getting to decide how I use my time, what I do with my money, where I focus my attention and energy, what worship looks like for me, along with the flexibility to enjoy hobbies, books, cooking, etc. Truly, we live in a very wonderful nation, land of the free and home of the brave!
When I think of freedom, I also think of responsibility because I’ve come to learn that these words depend upon each other to be sustained and functional. For example, when I was sixteen years old, I bought my first car with money that I’d earned for two years. I was MASSIVELY STOKED to drive wherever I wanted, and I thoroughly enjoyed the newfound freedom of driving! I also learned by some highly undesirable consequences that I need to take care of my car with stuff like oil changes, repairs, tires, etc.
If I didn’t pay attention to these responsibilities, I would not have the freedoms that my car could provide. If I wanted the freedom to drive, I had to maintain the responsibility to look after my car. Over the course of my life, I’ve seen the interdependence of freedom and responsibility multiple times, including:
- Time management: if I want to play, I must work first.
- Finances: I must pay for my standard expenses before I can “splurge” on a hobby.
- Energy: Using my energy for productivity at work is better than using my energy for play and leaving the residue for work.
I think the linkage between freedom and responsibility is also demonstrated in King David’s life in 2 Samuel 11. The first verse of this chapter says that in the normal time when kings go to war, David sent his army commander into battle, but David stayed home in Jerusalem. When David chose to neglect his kingly responsibilities, he had an affair with Bathsheba and got himself and others into some really serious trouble. He took freedoms with Bathsheba when he neglected the responsibilities he had as a king.
The fallout from David’s decisions were disastrous. Ultimately, Bathsheba’s husband was killed because of David’s infidelity, the baby that was conceived from his affair died, God was greatly displeased with his sin, and I’d suggest that David lost some respect for his position as the King of Israel. I think this example is a tragic depiction of what can happen when we uncouple responsibility from freedom.
We would also be wise to consider that the freedom and responsibility linkage isn’t merely for our youthful years or lessons that stick to our ribs from immature or young thinking. The relationship between these principles is timeless and universal, relevant to the entirety of our lives regardless of our age.
As I finish writing this blog, I wish you a really happy 4th of July, appreciating that we enjoy many wonderful freedoms in our great nation. At the same time, let’s remain committed to our responsibilities so that we can continue to enjoy our freedoms!