"To the extent that you are
free to choose evil, you are not free. An evil choice
destroys freedom .... Only the man who has rejected all
evil so completely that he is unable to desire it at
all, is truly free."
-- Thomas Merton, New
Seeds of Contemplation, 199-200.
We want freedom; freedom from our
addictions and afflictions. We carry hurts and
pain and grief, brokenness and guilt
sufficient to suffocate our souls. We'd
like to rise above the temptations to which
we too often
With this in mind, Thomas Merton (above) throws new light on the
nature of genuine Freedom.
In the past, I've considered true
freedom to be the unfettered ability to choose good
or evil. I have freewill when I can accept
or reject God. Take away that choice and you take away
my freedom. But any time I choose a destructive path I show how little
freedom I really have.
Think of it this way: Any intentional choice
for self-harm comes from an already
distorted or damaged life. That choice stems not from
freedom but bondage and leads to death -- hardly the
fruit of authentic liberation. Any evil pleasure which I think
has some value or attraction depends upon deception.
I would only choose it because I am duped by
it, and to fall for such deception is not to live
in true freedom but to be spiritually blind.
It's a paradox. I'm most free when
I can see evil for what it really is
and choose only for good. The "free"-will that we
usually talk about, which allows us to
choose impurity and ungodliness is actually "bound"-will.
Freewill is, ironically, the
capacity to choose only what is good.
Perhaps this helps us understand why
God cannot be
tempted to sin. He has perfect and pure
"It is for freedom that Christ has
set us free." (Galatians 5:1) That's the place we'd like to live and can live
as He delivers us from the subterfuge of evil and creates
in us a heart only for good. I don't want the
"freedom" to choose evil. That's no freedom at all.
Battling this week? Burdened by
yesterday's deceptions and decisions? Perhaps we might
pray this prayer:
"Lord, please give me true freewill
today, to choose only You
In HOPE --