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     For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another. Gal. 5:13-15

Dear Lord Jesus, I’m grateful the gospel is more like a powerful subpoena than a general invitation. For our need is so great, we couldn’t, and wouldn’t respond to the gospel, apart from such a strong summons. Indeed, the gospel is a life-giving subpoena—the means by which you call us from death to life; from slavery to freedom; from the kingdom of darkness into your reign of grace; from self-centered living to a life of God-centered adoration. We were just as dead as an entombed Lazarus, when you spoke the words, “Come out,” to us (John 11:43), and raised us from spiritual death to life in you.

We praise you, Lord Jesus, for the death-defeating, liberty-giving, joy-inducing, love-propelling, heart-transforming power of the gospel. Those you set free are free indeed; and the freedom to which you’ve called us, is to define the rest of our days, and permeate every area of our lives.

This is nowhere more necessary than in the world of our relationships. You’ve commanded us to love one another as you love us, Lord Jesus. According to you, this is the confirming mark of true discipleship (John 13:34-35). But as in Galatia, so in our churches, marriages, and friendships, we are quite capable of falling (or jumping) into “Christian cannibalism”—biting and devouring one another. When we do so, we sabotage your glory and a veil of your beauty. Forgive us, forgive me.

Lord Jesus, forgive us when, like piranhas in a feeding frenzy, we nibble on others’ brokenness and inconsistencies, more than we feast on the gospel. Have mercy on us when we nurse grudges more than we offer grace; when we rehearse the sins of others more than we remember our own forgiven-much state; when we are more petty than patient, critical rather than compassionate, mean rather than merciful. Help us know when overlooking the failures of others wouldn’t be cowardice, but courageous.  Help us learn how to conflict redemptively, rather than destructively.

Lord Jesus, we’re free only because you liberated us. Help us steward this costly and glorious freedom today, in a world of broken people and broken relationships. So very Amen we pray, in your glorious and graceful name.



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Scotty Smith

Scotty Smith is the founding pastor of Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. You can follow him on Twitter.

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