God's Shield for God's Freedom
The Lord stores up sound wisdom for the upright; he is a shield to those who walk in integrity, guarding the paths of justice and watching over the way of his people. (Proverbs 2:7-8)
I have a friend who described her original church as very permissive. “They told me that I could be whoever I wanted to be and do whatever made me feel free.” She then explained how, after a string of broken relationships with guys who did not treat her well, she began to doubt that “doing whatever she wanted” was really the way to become “free.”
Many of the debates about morality in our culture are really competing visions of what it means to be free. The modern view of freedom assumes that 'Everyone should be able to fulfill their desires, whatever they may be, as long as they don't hurt anyone else.' This is the view of freedom known as expressive individualism – we are only free and fully human if there are very few restraints on our desires.
Meanwhile, the Christian view on freedom presupposes that 'Everyone is free only as they submit to God's creative design.' God’s wisdom will shield you from disasters, leading your life to a deeper kind of freedom and flourishing; but this requires giving up your “freedom” to do whatever you want. Like the champion swimmer submitting to grueling workouts or the lead guitarist investing years in rehearsals, self-denial now is the only way to attain the freedom of athletic or musical excellence.
Later on, my friend found a church that taught her that some restrictions are necessary for true freedom. “I was so angry that my first church didn’t protect me,” she said, “but so grateful that my second church did.” God wants better things for his children than when we inflict pain on ourselves through misguided choices. His wisdom is the best shield against the sorrows of this world, “guarding the way of his people.”
This shield is not only rules (though it is that), but also the power to obey those rules. In his letter to the churches, Peter explains that “through their faith, believers are shielded by God’s power until the coming of His salvation” (1 Peter 1:5). In other words, God not only commands us what to do, but grants the divine power and love to carry out those commands. This is the best imaginable shield, and there is nothing more liberating than that.
Today, you might consider a few things: Have you ever thought of wisdom as protective? What would you like to be protected from? And how would you like to live in the freedom that God gives you?
Father, thank you for being my shield, showing me the path of self-denial and giving me the strength to walk it, leading to deeper freedom. Today, give me your strength to walk in integrity and love those around me. In Christ’s Name, Amen.