The gift of freedom comes with consequences. When a man or woman sins against another a judge will judge them, but when he or she sins against the Lord, he judges them (1 Sam. 2:25). With the free choice of behavior if it is rebellious and of idolatry, we will be turning away from the Word of the Lord, and he will reject us like Saul (1 Sam. 15:23). With freedom we have all gone out of the way, no one does good, not one, our tongues have been used to deceive, our feet are used to shed blood, and there is no fear of God (Rom. 3:10-18). From birth we were conceived in sin (Ps. 51:5). With iniquity in our hearts God will not hear us, but he will listen to us if we pray for forgiveness (Ps. 66:18-19)
Bob Dylan (b. 1941), singer-songwriter, artist and writer said, “A hero is someone who understands the responsibility that comes with freedom.” To be a hero is much like being a leader. In being him or her it is necessary to know how to lead responsibly. The gift that leaders have make them able to size up situations and decide what are best for their constituencies.
The President of South Africa and anti-apartheid revolutionary Nelson Mandela (1918 – 2013) wrote, “There is no easy walk to freedom anywhere, and many of us may have to pass through the valley of the shadow of death again and again before we reach the mountaintop of our desires.” Undoubtedly, our desires will face obstacles that we must confront. We have to do so time and time again before succeeding. Mandela referred to these goals as “the mountaintop of our desires.”
Rosa Parks (1913 -2005), African-American civil rights activist put a different spin on freedom. She was mainly concerned with the freedom of black Americans when she said: “I would like to be remembered as a person who wanted to be free…so other people would be also free.” Parks hoped her gift would mean freedom for others.
One of the founding fathers and first President of the United States, George Washington (1732 – 1799) recalled, “If freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” Washington spoke in favor of the gift of freedom of speech. Most agree that without it there would be more unresolved national problems. Citizens’ rights will be trampled with far reaching consequences.
Patrick Henry (1736 – 1799), American attorney, planter, and politician saw the sentiments of freedom lovers when he stated, “I know not others may choose but, as for me, give me liberty or give me death.” It is astounding that the benefits of freedom are so important that Henry prefered death than to live without it. Of such is the essence of our existence.
An activist and civil rights leader Coretta King (1927 – 2006) remarked, “Freedom of justice cannot be parceled out in pieces to suit political convenience. I don’t believe you can stand for freedom for one group of people and deny it to others.” Freedom has to be inclusive. It binds people together, build them up, and gives them the gift of hopefulness. It means equal treatment under the law.
Government must have the powers to be uphold freedom for all citizens. Martin Luther King Jr. (1929 -1968), baptist minister and leader in the African-American Civil Rights Movement, said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed.” Undeniably, there are forces at work willing to suppress human rights. In society all must enjoy the fruits of freedom. Then and only then, the gift of fairness in a democracy can blossom.