No sir, freedom is not free. Does this seem a bit simple? A bit hackneyed? Somewhat corny? It should not. Nevertheless, like so many common truisms, it is tested and proven repeatedly thereby gaining its reputation of banality. Freedom is only available with a cost. It is not free.
The truth is that nothing that is worthwhile is free. If a thing has no cost, then it has no value. Let me explain. I know a man that bought his son a car when he was sixteen. The son had little respect for that car. He drove it without proper care and eventually lost it due to inappropriate actions on his part. On the other hand, he took excellent care of the first car he owned that he paid for himself. The difference is that his father gave him one at no cost to the boy. Therefore, it was of little or no value to him. By contrast, when he used his own sweat to buy a car, it was of great value to him and he took great care of it.
You can readily observe a similar situation in a neighborhood where most or all of the homes are rental properties. I have observed the neighborhood where I grew up in the forty-six years since I left there. During the first twenty years after I left, I was a career military man. On my trips back home on leave, I noticed the gradual decline of the neighborhood. More and more of the houses there became rental properties while resident homeowners declined considerably. The results were predictable. As more residents became renters, the maintenance of the houses lessened. As the upkeep of the houses worsened, the property values plunged. Drug dealers moved in. Loud music was played at all hours, and fast drivers raced down the streets. Values went down and crime went up. Through this period, the few homeowners remaining, my parents included, stuck it out.
Then something wonderful happened. As the price of homes skyrocketed in the nearby areas, more people began to search for bargains. The neighborhood where my parents lived had lost property values and those houses became some of the best buys in town. Many of them were in poor condition. Then young homebuyers began to purchase those old houses (built in the baby booming late forties) and fix them up. What has happened in that neighborhood in the last twenty years is nothing short of miraculous. As resident homeowners once again populated those properties, the neighborhood has come back from the brink of extinction to be a pleasant and safe neighborhood in which to raise children. Today, those old houses look very good and property values have increased sharply. Shopping centers that were vibrant when I was a child were abandoned when I retired from the military twenty-four years ago. Now those shopping centers have been refurbished and new, prosperous businesses have moved back in. That whole region of town is now a bustling, thriving, and growing area.
The factor behind this phenomenon is our truism from the opening remarks. It is that things of value have a cost; conversely, things of no cost are without value. Renters have no investment in the real estate they occupy. A few renters are conscientious and take good care of their rental properties. Nonetheless, for most, because they have no stake in the property, the property itself is of little value to them. Yes, they are paying rent, but that rent is only for the hire of the property, it is not to purchase ownership in the property. The value to the renter is only the value of temporary residence. As soon as the rental period is over, the value of the rent itself is exhausted. The renter does not gain any interest in the property. Because his money goes only to purchase a period of time and not a part of the property itself, the cost of the real estate is nil to that renter. Since there is no cost to the renter for the property, it has little value to him. The only value to him is that he has residence there for a purchased time period. The renter does not have the responsibility of ownership, that is, he is not responsible for upkeep, repairs, taxes, mortgage payments, etc. Since the property itself is of little value to the renter, he tends not to take care of it.
However, when a person has paid a down payment, signed a mortgage, and become solely responsible for the house, and he is paying for it with his own sweat, he has a much greater incentive to take care of it. The property itself has cost the homeowner something so it has real value to him. The property itself costs the renter nothing so it has no value to him.
That brings us back to freedom. In order for freedom to be of value, it must have a cost. It is easily seen that the veterans of World War II have a much greater respect for this nation and a much greater understanding of the cost of freedom than the Baby Busters and Generation X. Freedom was purchased with the blood of patriots from the Revolutionary war until Vietnam. Baby Busters were born near the end of Vietnam, and Generation X was not born until after the Gulf War. That freedom was bestowed upon the Baby Busters and Generation X without personal cost to them. True, some of both those generations have fought in the Gulf War and the Afghan and Iraq campaigns. However, most of them have never had to pay a cost for freedom. Therefore, freedom is of little value to them. That is why there are so many war protestors. That is why this nation divided over fighting the War on Terrorism. That is why so many Americans are willing to give up a few freedoms for continued pleasure and security. They put pleasure and security ahead of freedom because freedom has such little value to them because it cost them nothing.
Those Baby Busters and Generation Xers who participated in the Gulf War and the War on Terrorism have paid a price for freedom and they are much less likely to give up their freedoms so easily. They are also much more likely to be patriotic to their country. We Baby Boomers have experienced to price of freedom through Vietnam, Grenada, and the Cold War. However, even many Baby Boomers have not experienced the true cost of freedom and they too are willing to give up freedom for security and pleasure.
Those of us who have experienced the true cost of freedom are much more likely to cherish it and to protect it. It has cost us something and therefore it is of great value to us.
The Nation of Israel in the Bible is an example of this. God led them to the Promised Land and because they obeyed His law, He prospered them. When they became more prosperous, their perceived need to obey God’s laws lessened. Since the cost of their prosperity was obedience to God, and since their obedience to God decreased then the cost of their prosperity became nil. They turned away from God. They did not obey Him. Their prosperity no longer had a cost, so it was of little value to them and it failed. Because they no longer counted the cost of their prosperity, God no longer prospered them. It was only when their prosperity failed that they once again began to understand the cost. It was then that they began to call on God again. When they returned to God, He increased their prosperity again. Unfortunately, this became a cycle with Israel and eventually God led them off captive by another people and removed them from their land.
Freedom from bondage to sin also has a cost. The price paid for that freedom was an immense one. The Son of God, Who was without sin, took the sins of the world upon Him and was killed for them. He paid the ultimate price for our sins; He died for them. Because He died for them and because He paid that price for our sins, we can be free of them. There was a price for freedom from sin and people, humans, had no way to pay for them. Even if we wanted to pay for our own sins, we are unable to. The payment for our sins requires a perfect and sinless sacrifice for our sins. We are neither perfect nor sinless. Any payment we might attempt is unacceptable. It will not cover the cost. Jesus is perfect and sinless and therefore his sacrifice for our sins is acceptable; He did pay the cost.
Freedom from sins came at a terrible cost. A perfect and sinless man had to die in order to pay the cost. You may be thinking that freedom from sins is worthless because it is of no cost to us. You are correct. It is of no value to us. Our humanity cannot participate in the cost, therefore we, as humans, cannot appreciate the value of the cost of the sacrifice. To the average man, what Jesus did is meaningless. The only way for humans to realize the cost is through the prompting of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit reveals the cost to us in our own spirit enabling us to know and understand that cost. Once we know the cost then we are indeed free from the bondage to sin and that freedom has great value to us.
Yes, there is a cost for freedom. It has been paid for with the dearest payment imaginable, that of human life. Lives were given to purchase freedom. Each of those lives was valuable. They were the friends, spouses, siblings, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Somebody loved each one dearly and many lost those loved ones in the fights for freedom. Precious men, women, and children died to buy freedom, and that, my friends, makes its value priceless.
Copyright © 7/30/2004, Mark Oaks. All rights reserved.