We live in the jungle, and one of the most common tools here is the machete. Consider the humble machete for a moment. Who is allowed to use it? If a baby tries to touch it, it is completely forbidden. Here in the amazon rain forest, however, many children carry machetes, but… if their parents see them using it badly, being a risk to themselves, or to others, then they would take it away. For a youth or adult, it is normal to carry a machete, and put it to good use. However, if a man uses it to attack another, he would be reported and imprisoned. Notice, however, that at no time did anyone say “the machete is bad or sinful”. It is good and useful when one gives it its legitimate use. The machete is used to bring order to the earth, subjugate it, and rule over the thick jungle plants, as is part of God’s created order. If you were to come to the jungle, you would see people using machetes to dig yucca from the ground, peel their yucca, split it for the cooking pot, and a whole lot more. The uses of a machete are almost endless here! But think for a moment about the people mentioned above, and their ability or permission to use the machete. What can of freedom do they have to use this tool?
The baby – none
The child – maybe
The adult – yes
The criminal – not any more!
Why? Is each machete different? No. It’s because of the differences between people.
The baby does not have enough knowledge or strength. The child may not have training with the machete, or he may not practice caution or have the wisdom to use it well. The adult should have knowledge of the tool, strength to use it, wisdom to know when to use it, and care not to hurt himself or others. The criminal had access to machetes, but because of his bad heart, resulting in harmful actions, he will no longer have access to the tool, and will undoubtedly be limited in many other ways as well.
What is the point? Many times a person wants to do something, and he hears the word “No”. This was not the expected response, so he gets upset or even bitter. But possibly his authority saw that he did not have the training, maturity, or ability to use it well. Our freedom in Christ is perhaps a little like that. Even things that are good and useful are limited for some because it is not the appropriate time, or there was no training to be able to handle it well.
Remember also that this varies from one culture to another. An adult walking down the street, or especially a group of children carrying machetes is completely normal here, but if you saw a person walking in a neighborhood carrying a big machete in the United States you might call the police! Note then, that the way one sees the freedom to use the machete (and many other things) will vary according to the culture.
My dear brother, when you want to do something, but your father, pastor, or authority tells you it would not be good, ask yourself what his motive might be? Maybe it is something that is legitimate but perhaps your leader sees something that motivates him to say “let’s be cautious about that“. Do we have freedom in Christ to enjoy what God has created? Yes, we certainly do (1 Tim. 4:5). However, we need to also have wisdom and skill to use our freedom properly.