Galatians 4:8-20 (ESV)
Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? You observe days and months and seasons and years! I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain. Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
After Paul said so many encouraging things to the Church in Galatia, he now lambasts them. Evidently they had slipped back into some of their pagan ways, including the observance of certain days and seasons and years. These observances probably involved rites or practices that were contrary to the Gospel message.
We all have a tendency to slip back to our own ways of doing things, yet we are called to do things God’s way. We were set free from our slavery to sin. We have no business living that way anymore.
Paul speaks of Christ being formed in the church. He feels like a mother in the anguish of childbirth. This is how much he loves them. It actually hurts for him to see them not living the Gospel.
What can we learn from this? The Scriptures tell us that when we are in Christ, we are dead to our sin, and alive in Him. We are no longer the same, we are new creations. The old has gone, the new has come. Our obligation is to live by the golden rule, to treat others the way we wish to be treated. We are to live in gratitude to God for the eternal change He has made in us. He has given us His Spirit as a promise that we will be resurrected at the end of time, and live with Him for eternity.
What a glorious prospect. Being in God’s immediate presence, bathed in the light of His glory. So live like a child of the King! Not an earthly king, that revels in parties, and self indulgence, but The King of Glory, Who calls us to live as servants to others that they may see our goodness and give glory to God.
Like Paul, we need to be about making disciples. Leading others to a more full relationship with our God and Father, and Jesus Christ.
by Virgil Stripes