Thursday, February 13, 2014

Galatians 4:8-20 "I plead with you. . ."

In this next passage of this book, as Paul reminds the Galatians where they came from, you can sense him throwing up his hands in frustration:

Before you Gentiles knew God, you were slaves to so-called gods that do not even exist.  So now that you know God (or should I say, now that God knows you), why do you want to go back again and become slaves once more to the weak and useless spiritual principles of this world?  You are trying to earn favor with God by observing certain days or months or seasons or years.  I fear for you. Perhaps all my hard work with you was for nothing.  Dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to live as I do in freedom from these things, for I have become like you Gentiles—free from those laws. (Galatians 4:8-12a NLT)

“You people were just released from bondage to gods that don’t even exist! Why in the world would you now want to go right back into a similar bondage?? I’m begging you: don’t do it!”

Apparently the Judaizers were trying to drive a wedge between Paul and his Galatian converts. They must have been badmouthing Paul, who reminds the Galatians of their initial love for him when he first came to them:

You did not mistreat me when I first preached to you.  Surely you remember that I was sick when I first brought you the Good News.  But even though my condition tempted you to reject me, you did not despise me or turn me away. No, you took me in and cared for me as though I were an angel from God or even Christ Jesus himself.  Where is that joyful and grateful spirit you felt then? I am sure you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me if it had been possible.  Have I now become your enemy because I am telling you the truth? (vs. 12b-16)

The Galatians had taken in the ailing Paul with great love, because he had brought the gospel to them. But now, they were being discouraged from listening to his words of truth. Notice that Paul is questioning where their joy had gone. The first thing we lose when we become legalistic is our joy! Jesus told us that the false shepherds come to “steal, kill, and destroy.” (John 10:10) Satan is a total joy-robber! And even though he disguises himself as an angel of light, we can recognize his works by the absence of our joy! If serving God has become a burden, a must-do instead of a want-to and love-to, then our joy has been stolen. We have given in to religious legalism.

Paul finds that exasperating! See his passion:

Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.  I wish I were with you right now so I could change my tone. But at this distance I don’t know how else to help you. (vs. 19-20)

Next time we will see Paul further argue his point using the example of Abraham’s two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. I love looking back to the Patriarchs! So many lessons to learn from them!  

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