Freedom is a gift from God and one of the greatest blessings that man can possess. Our founding father’s understanding of the importance of the God-given gift of freedom is depicted in the words of the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
Our founding fathers were children and grandchildren of immigrants who had fled the oppression of the tyrannical governments of Europe. These immigrants had fled to this new land at great financial cost and risk to their own lives and the lives of their families. They came to this land in search of a better life and the most precious blessings they were seeking was freedom…freedom to worship God according to their own conscience, freedom to speak and print their personal views on religious and political issues, freedom to own property, freedom to operate a business, freedom to raise and educate their children as they saw fit.
So precious to them was the blessing of freedom, they were willing to risk their lives to pursue it, and when their freedom was threatened, they were willing to give their lives to defend it and preserve it for future generations. Our founding fathers also understood that the principles that produce and maintain freedom are the principles found in the Bible. This is made evident in so many of the quotes of the founders and early leaders of our nation. John Adams, 2nd president of the United States, in a letter to his wife on July 4, 1776 stated: “The general principles upon which the fathers achieved independence were principles of Christianity.” After being elected president, John Adams stated: “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
In a letter written in 1790, Benjamin Rush (one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence), wrote: “I lament that we waste so much time and money in punishing crimes and take so little pains to prevent them…We neglect the only means of establishing and perpetuating our republican forms of government…that is the universal education of our youth in the principles of Christianity by means of the Bible…By withholding the knowledge of the Scriptures from children, we deprive ourselves of the best means of awakening moral sensibility in their minds.”
We have now been a free and independent nation for more than 235 years. Most of us are the descendants of several generations that have enjoyed the freedoms and prosperity of this great nation and it is so easy for us to take our freedoms and prosperity for granted. Having never experienced the oppression and lack of freedom that had been experienced by the families of our founders, it is difficult for us to fully understand just how precious this gift of freedom really is.
I want to remind each of us that freedom must be continually maintained and that it is the responsibility of each generation to maintain the blessings of freedom for the generations that follow. I want to remind us that it is not material wealth or military might, but it is righteousness that exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34). The most patriotic thing we can do is preach, teach and live the principles set forth in God’s Word. -Wendell Ingram