“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”
Are you a list-maker like me? That is to say do you start your day making a list of tasks for the day ahead? I find it a helpful way to prioritize and organize my day, and I enjoy a sense of accomplishment as I cross things off one by one. These sorts of lists, I believe, are helpful ways for me to be a good steward of each day God gives me. However, there are other sorts of lists that are more troublesome and we all have a tendency to make them; lists, real or imagined, that itemize what we feel we must do to earn favour with God. By now in our Sunday morning study of Galatians I hope as we read Paul’s words from Galatians 5:1 that “Christ has set us free” we have a sense of from what Christ has set us free. Primarily, we have been set free from law-keeping to earn God’s favour. We all tend to gravitate toward the belief that if we do the right things God owes us. We earn his favour by checking items off from a list: right behaviour, spiritual disciplines such as reading his Word or prayer, evangelism, giving, or in the case of the Galatians extra things God does not ask of us. Paul calls this mindset of rule-keeping turning back to the law, or even more pointedly “submitting again to a yoke of slavery.” So many of the things on such lists are good things, what could be wrong in wanting to do them? Well, it is about our understanding and motivation. Take reading God’s Word for example. Do you see this as a duty or a delight? When we revert to law-keeping to earn God’s approval we resort to duty, and duty done in our own strength. However, when we have in mind God’s gracious love and provision for us, we read his Word as a delight.
This tendency toward law-keeping is so tempting to us that Paul exhorts us to stand firm against it. What then is our motivation for moral and right living? Our answer is “For freedom Christ has set us free!” We are accepted by God completely apart from the law, such that when God looks upon us he judges us as he judges Jesus himself: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” This freedom in Christ frees us to obey and serve God motivated by his love and grace. If you wish to serve God more fully, cherish his love for you and meditate upon his works for you – the gospel. As Jesus said: “he who has been forgiven much, loves much.” Yes, we are asked to stand firm, but even our standing is not in our own strength. As Paul said to the Corinthian church: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.”
My prayer is that we would indeed be “doers of the Word and not hearers only”, but may we be doers in Christ, by his Spirit, motivated by his grace, and in faith working through love.
As we gather for Sunday worship, we want you to meet with God and be transformed by the Word. Prepare your heart by reading the passage and listening to the songs for Sunday.