Monday, July 1, 2013

July 1 - Galatians 4

Today's reading in our daily plan is Galatians 4. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
  • This chapter may be a bit confusing, but Paul is continuing to highlight the differences between the two ways to approach God - either through trying to obey the law and our good works, or through faith in Jesus and His sacrifice. Paul uses analogies to show that approaching God by His grace and through faith is far superior.
  • In the first analogy (verses 1-7) Paul explains that it's better to be a child of someone than a slave, and that approaching God based on the law and our good works makes us slaves (to the law, and ultimately of our sin) but approaching God through faith in Jesus and His sacrifice makes us children.
  • Paul makes the same basic point in the analogy of Hagar and Sarah (verses 21-31), who both bore Abraham children (back in the Old Testament book of Genesis).
  • In the middle section (verses 8-20) Paul begs the Galatians not to go back to approaching God based on the law and their good works, and reminds them of some fond memories he has of his time with them.

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • All this talk about choosing to back to the law may seem like it doesn't apply to us today, but it does. The natural inclination of every human being is to try to approach God through religion - through trying to be a good person who does good things. But that doesn't work, and God is offering us something so much better. We are invited to become His children through His unconditional love and forgiveness, and then our good works can just be a way of thanking Him for His approval, rather than trying to win His approval.
  • In verses 17-20 Paul writes about "those people" who are trying to get the Galatians to go back to the law. He says that their motives are bad, and that they are zealous for the wrong things. He says we should be zealous, but for the right things, and consistently - not just to impress people.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
  • What are you zealous about? What are the things you are really passionate about? Is God one of them? Really? Could someone see this by the way you think and talk about God, and by the way you use your time and money? If you are zealous for God, are your motives right? And is it consistent, or do you tend to pour it on more when you're around certain people, to impress them?
  • Ask God to help you to consistently turn away from a religious approach to Him and to turn to relationship with Him.