DON’T GO BACK!
Thank You, God, for the truth of Your word.
Read Galatians 4:8–20
Paul’s Concern for the Galatians
8 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. 9 But now that you know God—or rather are known by God—how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable forces[a]? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again? 10 You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! 11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
12 I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. 13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. 15 Where, then, is your blessing of me now? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
17 Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may have zeal for them. 18 It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always, not just when I am with you. 19 My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, 20 how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!
a Galatians 4:9 Or principles
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat do you do that makes God love you more? Or less?
Paul is clearly exasperated (20). Originally, the Galatians had welcomed him so warmly (12–15). But now they’ve turned against him because he’s spoken the truth (16). The false teachers will do anything to win them, so they have driven a wedge between the Galatians and Paul and the Gospel (17). And Paul is afraid that all of his efforts, as agonizing as giving birth, will be fruitless (11,19).
Now, finally, we have a full picture of the Galatians’ “Jesus plus…” Gospel. Back in Galatians 2:3, the issue was circumcision. By Galatians 2:12, it was Jewish food laws. Here in 4:10, it’s the Jewish calendar of Sabbaths and holy days.
These are unlikely to be issues for us today. Instead, we have 21st-century barometers to assess how much God loves us. And they’re more subtle because they’re things everyone around us does, they’re part of our culture as Christians: church attendance, faithful Bible reading, how sincere and heartfelt your confession is, how long it’s been since you think you last sinned really badly, how much money you give away, how many hours you serve in church…
These are all good things. But when we do them for the wrong reasons, to measure God’s love for us, it’s a return to crushing slavery (8,9).
Write down some “pros” and “cons” about yourself. Do you think that God sees you the same way you see yourself? Rest in his grace today.
Loving Father, help me to know You better so that I will rest in You more.