Romans: Day 33

The Law of Liberty


Today's Text: Romans 14:1-12, Colossians 2:16-17, Hebrews 10:19-25

Scripture Reading: Romans 14:1-12, Colossians 2:16-17, Hebrews 10:19-25

Today is my birthday. It’s a day I really love. Tonight my friends and I are headed to watch the Nashville Sounds play minor league baseball. There, I will hug everyone too many times, introduce friends who don’t already know one another, drink multiple Coke ICEEs, and maybe catch a foul ball. Then I will fall into bed tonight sure that I’m the luckiest woman alive.

My life is far from perfect. But the life I’ve spent 37 years putting together is turning out alright. Not perfect, not problem-free, but pretty awesome nonetheless.

The older I get, the more I draw boundaries in my life, making it the life I want to live. Some of my life rules wouldn’t work for you, and I’m okay with that. For starters, I’m dairy-free (it’s an allergy thing), but I wouldn’t ask you—or any of my friends at my birthday party—to live without milk, let alone eat cake WITHOUT ice cream. That beautiful stuff should never go to waste!

Then there’s the matter of rest. My day off each week is almost always a Wednesday. That doesn’t mean it needs to be your weekly day to rest. It simply means Wednesdays work best for me.

And then there’s the soccer. I watch it every chance I get. But you don’t have to do the same. Though, I’d highly recommend it because it’s just the best. Period.

The beauty of maturing, and also growing up in my faith, is that I no longer want to look like you. In high school I wanted to look like you, sound like you, and like what you like. Not now. Now, I want to live MY life. I want to look like me—the best, healthiest, kindest, truest version of me. There’s this thing we get to do whenever we’re tired of comparing our lives to other people’s lives: we get to live our own.

You know what it is? It’s the difference between bondage and freedom. Freedom is not a life without boundaries or borders or rule. It’s a life full of the good kind of boundaries, the kind that keep you healthy and strong, living the life God made you to live. It’s the life that is uniquely yours.

For none of us lives for himself, and no one dies for himself. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:7-8).

We often think freedom as just wide open space. But I’ve never found that to be true. Real freedom is found in knowing Jesus. It is giving yourself permission to live wide open in the spaces where God has placed you and in the ways He has made you. My fences around my spaces are going to look different from yours, but there is such safety and health and permission inside the boundaries built just for you.

Scripture tells us that if we’re Christ-followers, then the life we get to live belongs to Him  anyway. Galatians 2:20 says, “The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

That right there—living for Jesus—is living your best life.


  • Melodie Lee

    Amen and Amen Annie! I am 64 years old and have been a Christ followers since I was sixteen. What a hard road it was to come into my own walk with the Lord. Your article today should be preached to all women, as we suffer “belonging, and fitting in.” thank you.

  • Heather Schwartz

    My hubby just got diagnosed with melanoma again. We have decided to adopt a mostly raw vegan lifestyle. As I look at the Bible I feel like God has called up to be healthy- living sacrifices and not conforming to this world. Thank you for this article, because as I am fully convinced this is the life the lord has called us to- it is not what he requires of all his children.

    • Michelle

      Sorry about your husband. :(
      I think that is a relevant example of what this passage is referring to. You guys are sure of your conviction between you and the Lord, and others should respect that. I’m so thankful for the freedom we each have within the context of God’s will.

  • Will save this article and read again and again!

  • Loved this devotional today. It’s so true.

  • Living for Jesus is living your best life. YES. Thank you for this, Annie.

  • Annie I really love your writing. “Real freedom is found in knowing Jesus”. Amen.

  • Elizabeth

    I loved how you wrote about freedom here! I do wish that there had been mention of the difference between the weaker brother keeping old rules some called sin ( like eating certain foods or worshipping on Saturday vs Sunday) and things clearly stated as sin in the New Testament. From some of the comments, it sounds like some are walking away with the idea that whatever you think is sin is sin for you in all regards. And that carries the suggestion that we can create our own gospel, doesn’t it?

    • Alisa

      I don’t think we can create our own gospel. I believe this encourages us to focus only on the gospel and not judge those who may worship in a different way –
      Example: contemporary or traditional music ? It’s the worship that matters .

  • Annie! Love how distinctive your writing voice is and that I can read it and hear your actual voice in my head. Good stuff!

  • Love love love this post! Thank you!

  • Amen

  • Thank you Annie great writing! In the Hebrews part of today’s devotional I love the part where it says do not give up on meeting with each other and encouraging one another it takes me back to the early Christian’s in the book of Acts. Christianity isn’t all about religious services or buildings but meeting up together in homes and praying and encouraging one another. Let us not forget whilst we are free to be who we are and enjoy our self made boundaries that we bring others in too and that we build up the body by loving and serving them. That’s not always easy for me I have to be aware of my husbands boundaries or even my children’s. I want to truly cherish this devotional as we it leads us to also focus on others by encouraging them to feel cherished and loved. Lord we are willing guide us to those that need us so we can be your hands and feet.

  • Comparing falls awfully close to judging in my book. Both can lead one to a bad place in my relationship with God and myself and the world in general. And yet, I’m a human being and I will continue to struggle with both. Having the Scripture to remind me that these behaviors are those of the flesh and not of the heart is a good reminder and an important encouragement to put them in their place … one is bound to compare and judge, but know that it is what you’re doing and hod up, turn back to Jesus, cling to the good and set the evil aside and live and let live … amen.

  • The scriptures were a great wake up call for me… it’s a little off topic from your post but I tend to struggle with people, especially family members who can be very legalistic in their Christianity. But really, why does it bother me? (Other than sometimes they like to cause a fuss about change in the church) but if they truly think ______ is sinful then so be it! That’s their boundary. They get to live their life with that belief & I can live my life with mine. At the end of the day, all that matters is that we’ve all trusted Jesus as our Lord & Savior!

  • Reading yesterday’s study was good. My grand daughter wanted to know what I was doing and asked if she could do it with me. She asks “what does that mean?” After each sentence. It is a great way to study. As if the message could get any more basic, we read it together in the International Children’s Bible. It causes me to pause on behaviors I had deemed ok. I have been reflective of my actions with my younger (weaker) and not weaker brothers and sisters in Christ. I need to take every thought and action captive to Christ. Just because this is ok for me, doesn’t make it ok for another. After considering Christ’s opinion, let the other lead. It reaffirms that I am always a momma. It doesn’t matter the age. They are still watching me. I have been remiss. I pray for some changes, in myself and yet I don’t make them. Why?

  • Sabrina Moreau


  • Elisabeth7291

    I loved this piece. Such a perfect reminder of the uniqueness we are in Christ.

  • jill-smiles


  • Molly Dowland

    Happy Birthday!! You couldn’t have said it any better! The lord made us the way we were supposed to be made!

  • This was really, really well put. Thank you for sharing and cheers to your birthday!

  • Renae Joyce

    Awesome devotional! It feels great to be free in Christ!!! Life is beautiful!

  • I loved this piece so much. There are days were I don’t compare my life to others, and just sit in the fact and freedom that I am in Christ. I am doing what God made me to do and I am loving it. Those are my best days, the days like I feel the most like who I should be. Thank you for the encouragement. And the happiest of birthdays to you!

  • KatSmith1026

    5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup;
    you hold my lot.
    6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
    Psalms 16:5-6

  • Patrice Kelley

    Thank You Annie for your beautiful and encouraging message. Often times I will compare my life to what I see others do. And it causes me to doubt my journey and my progress. But reading your message and allowing the Word to heal me from the inside I know that my identity is in Christ Jesus and my life belongs to the Lord. Happy Birthday!!

  • Happy Birthday Annie! May the Lord bless you abundantly and may your boarders grow and be filled with the mercies and grace that only Jesus can plant.

  • Thank you for this encouraging message, Annie! My heart is full and satisfied this morning thanks to our Father’s words and your words. Often times I find myself comparing myself to other women who seem to have a better life than me by what they post on social media. Today, I am reminded that life is not determined by that picture on instagram. Full life is found is Jesus. Thanks again & happy birthday!

    • Emily B.

      I do the same thing! I try not to be envious of their seemingly perfect lives, but I do wonder what I can do to make my life look as “good” as theirs, and that’s not the answer. Jesus is the answer!

  • Happy birthday, Annie! I love this celebration of our unique boundary lines and th celebration of health, authenticity, and uniqueness within our individual boundaries. That is where I’ve found Christ’s freedom, too! I love your example of making life what you want it to be by honoring how God made you. Something I can always reconsider and also encourage in others’ lives too. Thank you for your beautifully written wisdom!

  • Love this!
    Happy Happy Birthday Ms Annie!

  • Happy a Birthday!
    Thank you for this post! It what I know, but what I desperately needed to hear this morning. It helped me to really get engaged in my prayer time this morning. Thank you for this wonderful wisdom!

  • Diane Huntsman

    Happy Birthday to you!! This is so so good and so much to glean no matter what age we are! Comparing will always be a thing when we believe that the external “things” make us happy or define our success and worth! Once we become convinced of the truth that Jesus makes us awesome and that a life lived aligned with His defines real success that’s when we will be able to lay down our comparison sticks.. there will always be the prettier, younger, more fit, more talented, more successful lady in our midst.. multiple ones.. we say “good for you friend” but my worth is hidden in Jesus.. that cross proves His love and my value and worth.. all other cases for greatness are just not comparable.. you are amazing being who you are.. let’s embrace that and compare no more. Hugs xo

    • Emily B.

      I love the attitude you shared as how to respond instead of getting caught up in the comparison game. My worth is in Jesus, so I don’t have to measure up to anything or anyone else! Thanks for sharing!

  • Such a clear, cookies-on-the-bottom-shelf, encouraging post! Thanks!!:)

  • I love this. And even at 50 something years old I find myself still at various times struggling with comparison, feeling not enough. Freedom with boundaries and Jesus as my guide, not people. That’s how I want to live too. Happy birthday Annie!! Thank you for this

    • Karen S

      As another 50 something, I’m with you Janet. Will I ever quit the insanity of the comparison game?

      • Debbie Gartland

        Yes, Yes. Let’s pray collectively for the Holy Spirit to make this so in all of us<3

  • Happy birthday! Really needed this reminder

  • Great post and reminder. Happy Birthday!

  • Happy birthday! Beautiful message on true freedom. I feel like sometimes–or a lot of times– in this world we really lose track of what that is. My pastor said it this way: true freedom is in our slavery (or bondage) to Christ; living a life for our Master that is not our own.

  • Happy Birthday! Thank you for this devotion it really hit home for me.

  • “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Theodore Roosevelt said it, but it sure sounds biblical.

  • Sonja Cox

    Happy Birthday Annie! Thank you for reminding us about the freedom we have in Christ! We live for the Lord!

  • My favorite devo in this Romans series so far!! I need boundaries so badly but just cannot seem to enforce them!???

  • Happy Birthday! My friend introduced me to this daily devotion, and this is the first time I read it! I love it already. I play with a pro soccer team in NC and I’m a long way from home. Since I’ve been here I’ve driven deeper into His Word for comfort and strength. This devotion really spoke to me today and I just wanted to thank you.

  • Happy birthday Annie hope it is a great day. I loved this post. Freedom found in Jesus and living for Him. That is so true in this day

  • Such a great post. Living authentically in who we are in Christ is a gift in itself! Wonderful reminder. Happy Birthday!

  • Happy birthday, Annie! Thanks for sharing this beautifully written post. As a mom and teacher of teens and twenty-somethings, I often mirror your words in telling my daughters and students to seek God and His will for their lives and not to compare themselves to anyone else. God makes so uniquely ourselves. I often ponder how God could make so much variety in His creations, but He is God!

  • Thank you Jesus that because of you we aren’t bound to our chains. We get to live a free life, not a life in bondage. Break our chains Lord!!! May we truly understand the realm of freedom you have for us

  • Oh, such inspiring words Annie! And a Happy Birthday to you as well! We must never forget whom we belong to and in whom our freedom lies. Our reality of a perfect life certainly doesn’t compare to Jesus’ perfection but it sure has everything to do with Him! There may be boundaries and obstacles, but He gives us everything we could possibly need when we have faith in Him ❤️

  • What truth! What perfect timing! I’ve been stuck in He phase of not feeling like I’m enough. I’m not as great a parent or wife or woman as those around me. I second guess myself all the time. I don’t say much when I’m around other women due to insecurity and lack of confidence. THIS is what I needed to read. I will continue to slap it in my face until I turn blue ski can truly, wholeheartedly feel it within. Thank you and Happg birthday, Annie! Thank you, Lord for Your Word and the freedom I feel in knowing You.

  • LivingJoyfully

    Happy birthday, Annie!
    Such a relief to not have to live like everyone else! The scriptures and the response all struck me today. “Real freedom is found in knowing Jesus. It is giving yourself permission to live wide open in the spaces where God has placed you and in the ways He has made you.” I have been looking at myself more intentionally this summer wanting to live into the ways God has designed me. Thanks for sharing!

  • churchmouse

    “The beauty of maturing, and also growing up in my faith, is that I no longer want to look like you.” What truth! Oh to post this on every social media site where comparisons run rampant and feed off each other. Oh that every teenager would let this sink into their soul – the angst of the teen years will pass; things gets better as you gain some life experience and your mind gets focused on Jesus alone. Are we not all Oh so weary of the comparison game? May we each just live our own life as Jesus would have us do. Just breathe. Be grateful. Live free. In Him. Today.

  • candacejo

    Happiest of birthdays to you, Annie! Thank you for this: “There’s this thing we get to do whenever we’re tired of comparing our lives to other people’s lives: we get to live our own.” May I live in the freedom of just being ME, wrapped up in HIM. ♥

    • lynne

      I love that!! Just being me wrapped up in Jesus. That inspires me. We are only who we are because of Jesus. Thanks for sharing!!

    • Emily B.

      I agree with Lynne–so good to think of being me, wrapped up in Jesus. Thanks for that!

  • Rebekah DeLibro

    Happy Birthday Annie! Wow, I truly needed to hear this scripture today. My head and heart forgets that God is the one we belong to and he is our true Master. That I don’t know everything and need to inflict my knowledge on others. What is so obvious to me isn’t to my brother and sister, God knows this and He still welcomes them and so should I. I’m a pretty welcoming person in general, always trying to include others and make sure people are feeling loved. However there are the times when someone keeps doing the “wrong” thing over and over again with the same result! This is where I start to judge and think “what a cycle of insanity”. I know this is not my place to but the Lord’s to do with what He will. I can pray for this person and myself that the Lord’s will be done and need to know that He will have the victory. Whatever that looks like and I need to accept it.

    • Diane S.

      ” I imagine that the struggle with governmental wisdom and direction doesn’t only plague the United States. Our world has sinners at the helm. I need to choose prayer over complaining because God ultimately wins. His purposes prevail. ”
      Your words really struck a chord in me. I am struggling with a decision I made when a sister shared something about herself with me that I judged to be sinful. Convicted that I needed to let her know that I could not condone or entertain that sin, I excludedon’t her from my personal life. Now I feel convicted. I know I am not perfect & that we are not to judge others, but are we not responsible to teach & admonish younger women within our congregations? Should I have turned a blind eye to the sin that was obvious to me & not to her? I am confused.

      • Eva

        What is the difference between teaching/admonishing vs excluding? If the person is a believer, you will have more of a godly influence on her if you continue to pursue a relationship with her than if you cut her off. If her habits are causing you to sin you may need to put stricter boundaries-otherwise love her like Jesus, speak truth into her life and continue to encourage her to draw close to Christ and stay true to his word. If she desires to grow in her faith I believe that God will reveal his truth to her

  • Robin - Cohort C Aderhold

    Happy birthday, Annie!!! Having gotten to share a space and time knowing you and learning by your side academically while we both were growing in the Lord in our own ways at UGA half a lifetime ago, I love these words of yours, friend.

    “My life is far from perfect. But the life I’ve spent 37 years putting together is turning out alright. Not perfect, not problem-free, but pretty awesome nonetheless.”

    The Lord has definitely surprised (and even upset) me with the way I expected this past decade to go, but it is true that real freedom and living is knowing Jesus! Thanks for the reminder that God is doing unique and kingdom-changing things in each of our lives in a personal way. It’s such a blessing when we realize we can at times be still and know that we are loved by God and that He is using us. Thank you again for filling us with His life-giving words and enjoy celebrating your birthday!

  • Jordan Taylor

    I had a feeling you were going to write today’s post, Annie– I’m a few days behind, but I skipped ahead just to see who wrote today!! I’m glad I did.

    Happy birthday to you, my birthday twin! July 7th is the best day of the year! :)

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