You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
At this point in the letter, we see a more conventional Paul than we have thus far. He points out, as if summing up the previous discussion, that our calling as followers of Jesus Christ is a calling of freedom, but there is a warning. When Paul says “the flesh” in his writings, he is talking about a life that is centered around the needs of the body, things like food, possessions, luxuries, desires, lusts and self-centered wants. He is not talking about the human body itself, the human body is fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image, it is not in and of itself evil or bad.
If we should live our lives as others do, simply filling our days by attending to selfish desires and physical sensations, we are not living in freedom despite what many would suggest. Freedom in Christ means that we can move far beyond such an empty and shallow existence so that we can do something meaningful and eternally significant, which is to serve one another in love. Again, he refers to the Law, but this time he does so in the positive, reminding his readers that the entire Law is fulfilled in one command, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Thus, the requirements of the Law can actually be kept without its condemnation entering into our lives: Love is the answer.
On the other hand, if we fight and squabble amongst ourselves, we will all be devoured.
I am always struck by the fact that for so long we have taken the whole “love” angle as a sort of academic, theoretical, abstract concept, rather than simply putting it into practice. What is so hard to understand here; ‘love’ is simplicity itself! Yet, at the same time that we have complicated “love your neighbor,” we have spent the greater portion of our time pointing fingers of condemnation at one another. To what purpose, I’d like to know! Has anyone’s life been made better? Has anyone received blessing and reward for their efforts? Not according to Paul!
Love your neighbor as yourself; serve one another in love. Everybody benefits, the Kingdom is built up, and we can live free of chains. I don’t know about you, but that’s the path I’m choosing!