Thanks to the ingenuity of our Chinese friends, we here in the US celebrate our independence this month with massive displays of colorful fireworks.

Every year when we sing our national anthem and enjoy the vibrant patterns created by “bombs bursting in air,” I remind myself that most bombs are deadly, not beautiful like the fireworks display. Although both use similar ingredients, one is intended to kill; the other to entertain. In this metaphor we see an example of how something can be used for both good and evil. In the hands of capable, careful, and caring people, something dangerous becomes glorious. But the opposite is also true.

Freedom—the very thing we celebrate with fireworks—can also be used for good and evil. As believers in Christ, we are free from the restrictive Mosaic law, but the Bible warns us not to use our spiritual freedom for selfish purposes: “Do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (Gal. 5:13).

Not everyone has political and religious freedom, but all believers in Christ have spiritual freedom. We must not use it as a weapon to impose our will on others but to display the glory of God’s will.