Thursday, June 29, 2017

June 29 - 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 seem complex but the idea is that Paul is continuing to warn against the dangers of "legalism" - of trying to earn God's approval through following traditions and laws, instead of understanding that we can only be "right" with God through Jesus. Paul uses analogies to show that approaching God by his grace and through faith in Jesus is far superior.
  • In the first analogy (verses 1-7) Paul explains that we are all born slaves. We are slaves to the world (the law and sin) until we receive God's love and grace through Jesus' sacrifice. When we do we become his children, and his children are heirs to a great fortune. 
  • Paul then makes the same point in the analogy of Hagar and Sarah (verses 21-31). (For the story of Hagar and Sarah, see Genesis 16 and 21). 
  • Paul begs the Galatians not to go back to approaching God based on the law and their good works, and shares concern that they have turned their backs on him and the faith he taught them.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
  • All this talk about choosing to go 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 offers us 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 those great gifts.
  • In verses 17-20 Paul warns 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?)
  • Are you trying to impress God? Do you help serve at church or in the community because you think it will help make up for your sins and get you into heaven? OR do you help others because you are so grateful for God's love that you can't help but share it? Motives matter. Our motivation should be love, not obligation. 
  • What are you zealous about? What are the things you are really passionate about? Is God at the top of that list? Really? Could someone see that's true by the way you think and talk, and by the way you use your time and money?
  • Ask God to help you to consistently turn away from a religious approach to Him and to turn to relationship with Him.