Paul continues to contend for the work of faith. Works CANNOT save us! Those who teach this are number one on Paul’s damnation list.
During our last reading I pointed out the jealousy that lay beneath this struggle between the Children of the Promise and the Children of the Law. The second was never able to have what the first was freely given. But there is another insidious attitude lurking beneath the surface. That monster is pride.
When Paul talks about the offense of the cross he is referring to the fact that to accept Jesus’ work on the cross you have to be willing to admit that you are incapable of doing enough to save yourself. You have to lay down your pride. Pride in your own accomplishments. Your self-sufficiency. Your, “At least I’m not as bad as him” attitude. Those enticing the Galatians to buy into following the law were appealing to their pride.
You have to accept the fact that you cannot save yourself. That you can never do enough to become righteous on your own. That God is not in need of your help.
It is a humbling experience to finally come face to face with that fact. “I’m a good person” doesn’t cut it with God. We have to see ourselves as He sees us; a sinner but worth dying for. God loves us so much that, even though we ALL sin, He made a way for us to come to Him and receive forgiveness. We didn’t do it, He did. We can’t do it no matter how hard we try.
The false teachers were also playing on the Galatian’s fear of not being good enough. I can identify with this one. “Jesus did SO much for me; surely there is something He requires in return.” “What if I’m not good enough and I miss out on Heaven?” “How do I know if I’m good enough for God to really love me?”
These are questions I struggled with; sometimes I still wrestle with them. Paul said it too. “For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness” (verse 5). Paul recognizes that he is not living a perfect life. He knows he personally, by his own works, is not righteous. But by faith in the work that Jesus did he accepts that the Spirit is making him righteous. Not by his works but by faith. He trusts Jesus’ words and work, not his own.
We have to put off pride, cast out our fear, and put our faith in Jesus’ work. He is the only one who can do this work. BUT we also, because of placing our life in His hands, we are to live a life of love for one another. NOT as a way to save ourselves but as an offering of thanks giving for His work on our behalf.
Father God forgive me for my pridefulness. Forgive me also for my fear of not being enough. I fully accept that I have done nothing to deserve Your love, but I’m more than willing to receive it anyway. I trust You and take You at Your word that YOU are making me into the child You want me to be. I surrender myself to Your hands. Mold me and make me after Your will. I await Your hands Lord.