This is the fourth in a series of posts to demystify some of the most common gospel-isms we use in Christianity. While these sayings are good, sometimes they can feel confusing or easier said than done. Many of us wonder, “What does that really mean though?” We hope that these short blogs can help us all think about these phrases in context, considering how they impact our daily lives. You can find the first post here, the second post here, and the third post here.
Is it biblical for a mother to work outside of the home?” The question was pitched at a small-group Bible study where I sat as the only mother working outside of the home. The women around me held strong opinions on the subject and my instinct was to defend myself. I didn’t want to be viewed as “unbiblical,” so I worked hard to justify my employment status. In the end, this question—offered as a “Bible discussion”—felt more like a test I had to pass.
Sadly, this scene is all too common. I’ve been in similar spaces before. Sometimes, I’ve played the part of the defendant, as seen above. Other times, I’ve been the plaintiff. I measure a sister by her position on some matter of secondary importance, and I’m tempted to define her by that one issue. Perhaps you’ve been there.
Ask a group of Christian moms (even seemingly similar ones) questions on parenting practices, social media use, and the specifics of modest dress and you’ll get various responses based on past teaching, present circumstances, and personal conscience. Is it okay for believers to disagree on these points? How does our freedom in Christ apply within scripturally gray (and sometimes contentious) areas of daily life? How do we practice our liberty in community with others? What does it mean for a mom to have freedom in Christ?
Our questions point us to Jesus.
You Are Indeed Free (But Not Yet Home)
As Israel was delivered from the bondage of slavery by the hand of a mighty God, so Christians are freed from the clutches of sin by the work of Christ. By grace, God makes unregenerate people—those dead in trepasses with no ability not to sin—alive in Christ. The Spirit enables us to turn from sin as we cling to Jesus. Sister, if that is true of you then you’re free indeed!
You’re free from God’s just punishment against your sins for Christ has taken your transgressions upon himself and has suffered in your place. You’re free from God’s condemnation for Christ’s righteousness is credited to your account. And although sin daily crouches at your door, you’re now free to fight against it through the enabling power of the indwelling Spirit. The Holy Spirit convicts and guides your conscience according to scripture. You are set free to enjoy and delight in God.
Christian freedom is a glorious truth, yet—like Israel in the wilderness—we live on the cusp of the “already, but not yet.” What do I mean? Just this: you are free but not yet home.
Christians live between the time of our redemption and the consummation (or full experience) of it. Already we are a saints, yet perfect holiness and fellowship with God and one another awaits us in a city to come. And in these “wilderness years,” our understanding and application of our freedom can be rocky (just consider our quarrels over breastfeeding and yoga pants). Here, we can thank God for passages like Romans 14 and 15 which provide helpful principles for free mommas living “between the times.”
Use Your Freedom to Welcome Others
In Romans 14:1-23, we find Paul dealing with questions of food and drink. Some—perhaps remembering Christ’s pronouncement of clean foods in Mark 7:18-19—felt free to enjoy meat sacrificed to idols. Others believed differently, causing sparks to fly.
When it comes to matters of conscience not mandated by God’s clear commands or the essentials of the gospel, the Apostle Paul’s teaching is gracious acceptance of fellow believers. He writes:
“One person believes he may eat anything, while the weak person eats only vegetables. Let not the one who eats despise the one who abstains, and let not the one who abstains pass judgment on the one who eats, for God has welcomed him” (Romans 14:2-3).
Then and now, the tendency of Christians with freer consciences is to view the scruples of “the cautious” as legalistic bondage. Vice versa, those who tread more carefully might regard others as unbiblical and wayward. Paul’s word to both is this: do not despise or judge the heart of your fellow-believer, for God has welcomed her/him.
Where the gospel and essential orthodox beliefs are at stake, we contend and admonish. Where lesser matters are involved, we ask questions and invite discussion but try not to divide. Remember, that we have all been freed from the captivity of sin and share union in Christ. The Spirit that guides you into all truth is also at work in your sister, and it is before him that she stands or falls (And God is able to make her stand!). In nonessential matters, we exercise our liberty according to the principles of scripture, and we allow others the same freedom of conscience, trusting that we all serve and desire to honor Christ.
Use Your Freedom to Grow in Christlikeness
After stressing what to avoid, Paul moves on to highlight what we ought to pursue in the practice of Christian freedom. He writes in Romans 14:15-19:
“For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love...For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit...So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.”
Christian freedom doesn’t consist of food, drink, clothing styles, at-home or outside work choices, or child-rearing methods—rather, it is Spirit-enabled righteousness, peace, and enjoyment of God over sin. This freedom cannot be taken away, hence we gladly make issues of “food and drink, etc.” subservient to love of God and neighbor.
Unlike the “liberation” offered by the world, Christian freedom doesn’t enslave us to our own preferences but enables us to serve others and obey God. This means, for instance, that we examine our own hearts, pursuing choices that honor God according to scripture in our unique circumstances. The working-at-home mother doesn’t view her status as “more spiritual” than her outside-the-home working neighbor, but rather is eager to assist with a helping hand.
Conversely, the sister who works out of the house doesn’t “look down” on the stay-at-home mom as “wasted potential” but respects her neighbor’s good work and is generous in her gospel encouragement. Both help one another look at heart motives out of a shared desire to obey God and glorify him. Paul goes on to say this:
“Let each of us please [her] neighbor for [her] good, to build [her] up. For Christ did not please himself,” (Romans 15:2-3).
We’re Christians on our way to an eternal home, we live in the wilderness years between the already but not yet. So momma, what does it mean to have freedom in Christ today? It means that right now, you’re free from the penalty, condemnation, and guilt of sin. Right now, you’re free from the control of sin as the Spirit empowers you in the word. And right now, you’re being conformed to the image of your Liberator. And one day, you will experience perfect holiness in your fellowship with God and with others. You shall be like Jesus—and this is the full consummation of your freedom!
 Hebrews 11:13-16
 Rom. 14:6
 I Cor. 6:12
 Emphasis on [her] for reader understanding
 1 John 3:2
Nana Dolce lives in Washington, DC where she and her husband share the joy of parenting two home-schooled daughters. Nana has a Master of Arts in Theological Studies--which comes in handy as an at-home mother! She has the privilege of teaching God’s word to women and children and is thankful to write for ministries like Christianity Today, Christ and Pop Culture, and Modern Reformation Magazine, among others. Find her at motherhoodandsanctity.com.