There are 2 interesting verses in Galatians 4
Galatians 4.11 I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.
Galatians 4.15 What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me.
The Galatians received the news that Jesus died for our sins and now righteousness is given to us apart from our actions, but then after Paul left they came up with a bunch of rules that they should follow to be blessed.
Paul is totally confused, angry, and more in his letter to them. But these two things stick out to me.
When the Galatians pollute the good news by adding to it special feast days, seasons, activities, etc, Paul doesn’t get mad at himself as if he did a bad job or he failed at something. He says that he fears for THEM. He taught what he taught, he set them in motion, and he is confident that it was they themselves that got things off track. That’s bold. I think I’d be second-guessing myself and wondering where I went wrong.
Even better than that, verse 15 asks “what happened to all your joy?”¬† What happened to their blessedness, their happiness? Where else? their rules and regs sucked all the life out of them. Any time there are laws, no matter how grueling or depriving or difficult, ultimately they exist out of selfishness. Either to gain approval or gain piousness or gain something by doing something or not doing something. In the other direction they may exist because the law-keeper lives for being beat-down. How many times do I turn grace into a law to follow, simply because it’s easier for me to comprehend laws than grace!
So their joy in the grace of the gospel is lost on the hopeless pursuit of rules. How many churches/religious groups does that sound like? The Galatians first met Paul with such openness and charity that he said they would have plucked out their own eyes for him. Now they are so caught up with who is doing the right things and the wrong things that there is no room for hospitality or charity. And why should there be? What if they showed kindness to someone that wasn’t following all the rules? What if they invited someone to their fellowship that had a tattoo, or even smoked!
So let’s throw away our rules! Yes, throw them away! Put no stumbling blocks in front of people that may come to us, and let them come! Gouge out your judgmental eyes and give your guests a look at what grace and forgiveness looks like.
May God free us from our legalisms.