Journal Gal 4 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: Paul to the Galatian church: “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 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.” Gal 4:15-20
Observation: This looks like a continuation of Galatians 3: “O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you?”
Analysis: There is real anguish here. “Who has done this to you? This is so perplexing! You started off well and now have fallen off the wagon, gone off the rails. What happened?”
I am immediately taken to the concept of the Roads that Jesus talks about: (paraphrased) “Narrow is the road to righteousness; wide is the road to destruction” (Matt 7:13-14), and right back to Galatians 1 and heresy. (Gal 1:6-9)
How easy is it to the road of destruction? Just a little bit off the centerline, easy wandering, over time. Sin oozes, it does not come with a thunderclap. A thunderclap I can avoid; the drip, drip, drip from the faucet of sin is easily ignored as something of no consequence.
That appears what has happened to the Galatians Church. Focus: this is the Local Church that Paul is writing to; it is not the city of Galatia. Church members, church folk—people like me.
Who are “they” Paul is writing about? I don’t know, but I think it is simple to deduce. “They” are those folks who are changing the focus off of Jesus and “making much of Me.” “They” diminish the formation of Christ in me and are encouraging the adoration of the face in the mirror.
Brian and I, in reviewing “The Enemy Within” at Sat AM Coffee at IHOP, talked about “checklist” religion this morning: Did I do this? Check. Did I do that? Check. What about that other thing? Check. Twenty-five checkoffs later and I can say confidently, “No fault can be found in me.”
But has any of these “checkoff” kindled my heart, fanned it into flame, caused worship? Have I renewed again my “first love?” For the Galatian church, looks like the answer is “No.” I see what Paul says:
“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 (apparently) whose slaves you want to be once more…I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.” Gal 4:9-11
I preach to myself: “This is the easy road. Do I want to pick out the easy principles of following Christ and not be hard on myself and be a disciple, to have Christ formed in me? If so, I must make up my mind to navigate the hard, rocky, narrow road.”
Prayer: Holiness is Your life in me, O Lord. It is too easy to call myself by Your Name and be so far off the track it isn’t funny. Your goal, objective, is to make me into the image of the Son (Ro 8:29) and it is inconceivable that I resist engaging in that work, opting to do just about anything else instead of the hard work of my Heart and resisting Sin.
I think that I can coast, that I gain your image by edict and osmosis. How foolish is that attitude! Help me, make my life a prayer to you. Fan into flames the cooling embers of my heart, O Lord. AMEN