That was the slogan on the shirt of the girl waiting for the elevator. “Property of Captain Morgan” – a tongue-in-cheek reference to the character used to advertise her preferred liquor. I’m sure she didn’t give it a deeper thought, but it got me thinking about our lesson last Sunday in Community Group. (Why is it that we don’t say Sunday School anymore?)
We were studying Romans chapter 6, about grace and freedom from sin. What sprang to mind when I saw the shirt were these verses: You know well enough from your own experience that there are some acts of so-called freedom that destroy freedom. Offer yourselves to sin, for instance, and it’s your last free act. But offer yourselves to the ways of God and the freedom never quits. All your lives you’ve let sin tell you what to do. But thank God you’ve started listening to a new master, one whose commands set you free to live openly in his freedom! Romans 6:16-18 MSG
When you were slaves to sin, you were free from doing what God approves of. What did you gain by doing those things? You’re ashamed of what you used to do because it ended in death. Now you have been freed from sin and have become God’s slaves. This results in a holy life and, finally, in everlasting life. The reward for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:20-23 GWT
It’s easy for me to say to myself “Hey, I don’t offer myself to sin. I’m not enslaved by anything. I don’t party or do drugs. I’m not property of Captain Morgan”
(Side note – I want to be clear that this isn’t some rant against the evils of drink. I know that the Bible tells us not to get drunk but it also says that God created wine which makes men happy – and Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine, not wine into water. I personally believe that anything can be done in moderation as long as God hasn’t convicted you that it is wrong for you at that time. That’s Scriptural too. OK, back to my main point.)
So.. I don’t party or do drugs. I’m not property of Captain Morgan. But the fact is that I am controlled by anything that I let control me. Either God controls me, or whatever I let be in charge at the time controls me. It can be my fears and anxiety. It can be my temper. It can be my laziness. It can be my need for my own way. It can be my desire to look good. It can even be the people I love, if I put them above my love for Jesus and my heart to obey him.
The really interesting thing is, how right the Bible has this. (Well, duh) When any of these things are controlling me, I’m not free at all, even though I’m choosing what “I want”. Things get all off-center and messed up. But when I keep God in the center and just take my hands off and let him have control, I really am free. It’s kind of crazy how it says I’m God’s slave – I am, in that I belong to him forever – but I’m not a captive unwilling slave. Back in Bible days sometimes slaves were set free, and if they loved the people that they worked for they could ask to stay with their masters forever. It’s not like our mental images from “Roots” of slaves desperate for freedom. I am a slave of God, willing and honored and happy to be so, and completely aware that my life only really makes sense when I stay in that place.
Give yourselves to God, as people who have been raised from death to life. Make every part of your body a slave that pleases God. Don’t let sin keep ruling your lives. You are ruled by God’s kindness and not by the Law. Romans 6:13-14