We’re REAPing through Galatians this week 🙂
Paul, an apostle (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, Unto the churches of Galatia:
Grace be to you and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.
I marvel that ye are so soon removed from Him, that called you into the grace of Christ, for another gospel. For this is not another; but there are some who trouble you and would pervert the Gospel of Christ. But should we, or an angel from Heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again: If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that which ye have received, let him be accursed! For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet sought to please men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify to you, brethren, that the Gospel which was preached by me is not according to man; for I neither received it from man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.
For ye have heard of my participation in times past in the Jews’ religion, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and wasted it. I profited in the Jews’ religion beyond many of my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the heathen, I conferred not immediately with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went into Arabia and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles save James, the Lord’s brother. (Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.) Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ; but they had heard only that, “He who persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.” And they glorified God in me.
God really used Paul in a radical way. A couple of things in this first chapter of Galatians stand out to me. In the first part, Paul says “do I seek to please men? For if I yet sought to please men, I should not be the servant of Christ.” I quickly can list at least 10 ways that I seek to please men over God, without even thinking twice: When I worry about my appearance. When I am quick to get angry. When I am nervous about what others will think about what I say…In this passage, Paul also recounts his life as a Jewish scholar. Paul was so engrained in the Jewish faith that he “profited in the Jews’ religion beyond many of my equals in [his] own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of [his] fathers.” Despite Paul’s devout Jewish past, God uses has used him to minister for thousands of years. Paul’s reputation preceded him, but it was coupled with the hope that Christ gave others through Paul’s conversion:”Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, and was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ; but they had heard only that, “He who persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.” And they glorified God in me.”
Let’s just be straightforward and say that my application is: stop seeking approval of others. Think of God instead. Live my life so that at the end of it, God says, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Servant. Not presentation-giver, or house-cleaner, or good-dresser. Instead: Servant. Of Christ.
God’s conversion of Paul gives up hope. Paul did more than talk bad about Christians, or mutter under his breath his disapproval of their convictions. Paul murdered Christians. Paul ended lives that represented Christ. Yet Paul’s life gives us hope. Christ revealed himself to Paul in such a way that radically changed Paul. We can be radically changed. Our unbelieving friends and family can be radically changed. If God made such an abrubt change in Paul, think of what he can do in us.
God, let our hearts be renewed each time we stumble, let us be your servants, to strive not for the approval of men. Show us how to be your servant, and when we’re not, put us in our place. And I pray that you would work in the lives of those who radically defy you. Change their hearts. Use us to show them grace, and guide our hearts to believe in your life changing power. Through you, all things are possible.