"Your freedom ends where your brother's begins..."

I don't know how many times I heard my mother say it. I never fully comprehended what it meant, however, until much later in life; and even then, its fully meaning wasn't perhaps permanently drilled into my mind until the day we flew from Guadeloupe to Martinique...

They were all minor things, really: The Carnaval celebrations that blocked the closest route to the airport, resulting in us arriving about 30 minutes later than foreseen; the rental car attendant who was definitely on island time; the fact that we apparently owed money for damages to our rental car; the shuttle driver who was also on island time; the fact that he dropped us off at the wrong terminal; the long line at check in...

But the commutation was definitely during check-in: We were asked to weight our carry-on bags. Now I don't know about you, but I've never had to weigh my carry-on. In fact, I always load my carry-on with all the heavy items so that my checked bag isn't overweight, and as a result, my carry-on bag was six kilos overweight!

There was nothing we could do but repack, and that meant waiting in the long line for the check-in yet another time. Of course I had originally placed all the batteries in the carry-on, as per flight regulations; but during the "repack" process, I was not thinking about flight regulations, and the heavy batteries all ended up in the luggage to be checked. That meant that I had to open the checked bags again, find where I had dumped the batteries, and transfer them back to the carry-on. Of course, this made the carry-on overweight once again...Sigh...In the end, there was nothing left in my carry-on but batteries and my laptop, and it was still overweight!

We did finally get everything shifted, but my sour mood didn't lift even when we had passed the check-in. You see, as we went through security, there were many people in line with large carry-on bags that obviously weighed more than five kilos! And so I grumbled and complained until my husband suggested that I let it go. I stopped, but only for a while, and he once again had to suggest that I let it go. I am ashamed to admit how many times this scenario repeated itself, but I did notice that each time I started up my complaining, he seemed to become more tired. In fact, by the time we finally arrived in Martinique, he was exhausted. It was only later that I realized that it was my negativity that was pulling him down...

Wait. Didn't I have a right to complain? And if I can't express my feelings to my husband, who can I express them to?

"Right" or "wrong", however, my words were pulling him down, and the only thing that would stop him from being further hurt was for me to sacrifice my "right" to complain... Suddenly I understood. My freedom to complain ended where his freedom to live in peace began...

Jesus asks us to love one another: "So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other." (John 13:34 NLT). This isn't an easy command in the best of times; but it becomes much harder when "loving" someone else in a way that respects their wishes means sacrificing my own "rights".

In Canada, I have the "right" to use either one of the official languages. But what if I decide to execute this "right" and speak English, when the person I'm speaking to only speaks French?

Do I not also have the "right" to feed peanuts to squirrels if I want to? But what if those squirrels took my peanuts and ate them on the porch of my next door neighbour who is deathly allergic to peanuts?

And think about this: God has every right to punish sin and the sinner, and since the wages of sin is death (See Rom. 6:23), God could -- rightfully -- strike down every sinner. What if He had executed that right? We would all be doomed to eternal darkness. Instead, God sent Jesus to be punished in our place (See 2 Cor. 5:21)...

And let's also remember this from Jesus' perspective: He had the right to equality with God: "He had equal status with God..." (Phil. 2:5 MSG). What if He had executed that "right"? He would never have left Heaven! Instead He, "...didn't think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn't claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion." (Phil. 2:6-8 MSG). If Jesus had executed His right to equality with God, we would all be doomed to eternal death.

The next time you are tempted to be upset at someone for interfering with your "rights", remember to follow God's example, because in a love-dominated world, our freedom truly ends where another's begins...

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.