Galatians 4: Seize the Day

Galatians 4: Seize the Day

DAY 3 OF 4

I always feel very discouraged when I’ve worked hard to lead someone into the truth, and then, some time later, discover that that person has gone off at a tangent, or has taken on some weird belief and mixed it in with what he knew of the truth. I can’t describe how sad I feel. I’m tempted to feel that it was all a wasted effort (verse 11).

So far in this letter, Paul has been pretty hard on the Galatians. He’s told them off well and truly for being so stupid as to listen to these Jewish ‘trouble-makers’. But he really does love them, and now he speaks very personally to them.

Verse 12 is a hard one! It seems to mean this: ‘When you first became Christians, you didn’t observe a whole list of rules as being necessary for salvation, and neither did I! I was just like you. Well, I’m still free from those laws, so I beg you, please be like me—don’t be under law! You didn’t do any wrong to me back then, so don’t do so now.’

Paul goes on in verses 13 and 14 to remind them that he was quite ill when he first preached to them, and even though this ailment (whatever it was) could have been offensive to them, they not only accepted him warmly, but treated him as an angel of God—as Christ Himself.

There’s no doubt that they were thrilled by the message that Paul brought to them, and counted themselves blessed indeed to have his ministry among them. They really loved him, and he them. In fact, their love for him was so deep that, if it had been possible, they would have gladly given him their own eyes—verse 15.

But what a change has now taken place! Not only have they accepted this crazy false teaching about ‘law’, but they resent Paul’s opposition to it! How can such a thing happen? How can this one they loved so much now seem like their enemy, just because he faces them with the truth about themselves?

In verses 17 and 18, Paul faces the Galatians with the truth concerning these false teachers. He says that these people, though zealous, do not have a pure motive. They want the Galatians to follow their teaching, and in so doing to follow them. They want an exclusive loyalty. They certainly don’t want them following that fellow Paul!

Every false teaching, like this one, is somewhere based on some sort of legalism. That is, they all insist on the observance of some ‘law’. It is this very exclusivity that marks off a sect from true Christianity. The final result is to shut the followers out of the Kingdom of God. 

That’s why teaching salvation ‘law-way’ is so dangerous to the hearers. And when it’s mixed in with the Gospel it’s doubly dangerous, because it seems so like the real thing. So watch out!

In verse 18, Paul says that it’s not wrong to be zealous, nor is it wrong for others to have a deep interest in you, so long as the motive is good. This principle applies all the time, ‘not just when I am with you! ‘. In other words, ‘don’t be taken in by others when I’m not there!’.

Finally, in verses 19 and 20, Paul pours his heart out to these much-loved converts of his, and tells them of his anguish for them. He feels like a mother going through the pain of child-birth. In this case, it is the pain suffered by him in bringing his young believers to full ‘birth’ in the Faith. 

What should have been a straight-forward ‘delivery’ has been hampered by these false teachers, and it’s as if Paul has to give ‘birth’ to them a second time. Oh, how he wishes he was there with them! How quickly he would be able to deal with the issues and nurture them in the truth.

Paul’s longing for these believers was that Christ would be’ formed in them’. That their lives be like that of Christ. That His life be fully developed in them. He wanted them to grow from birth to full maturity.

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Galatians 4: Seize the Day

Jesus Christ has a right to be God’s heir and to receive the inheritance. We do not. We enjoy this wonderful prospect and promise only by God’s grace. It is only because He has brought us into His family that we are join...

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