Bible Reading: Galatians 3
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you Galatians 3:1 NKJV
Before you judge Paul for his harsh words in the opening verse of our reading today, let’s try to reason with him.
If you’ve passed through the Nigerian education system and then travelled ‘to the abroad’ for further study, I’m sure you’ll understand Paul’s point better. It’s a commonly held opinion that the average Nigerian would do excellently well in most foreign education systems.
Let’s imagine some young Nigerian man in his final year in a Nigerian University and all that it comes with- forming his own notes; reading crazy long hours and enduring TDBs (reading all night Till day breaks) and still getting ‘shoe size scores’ in the exams; having to imagine the principles and methods behind the practical sessions that never happened, and so many other things that seem to typify the Nigerian education system. So this brother stretches himself to the extreme because of his big dream of traveling ‘to the abroad’ for a master’s program and then, he gets to go for that!
He resumes the school of his dreams!
In a few months, he is top of the new class in every activity and test, and all that is happening without him doing all the inhuman TDBs and plague-like sufferings he previously endured in Nigeria.
Then after going through half of the Master’s program, our brother decides that he wants to come back to Nigeria to start another master’s program, all because he says the foreign Master’s programme is way too easy for him!
That’s unthinkable! You have experienced something that comes a lot easier for you; something too good to be true, but you would rather go back to the former way of doing things?! There are two most likely possibilities- it’s either He’s just plain foolish or his village people have found him (he’s been bewitched). So we have to understand where Paul is coming from!
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? Gal 3:3 KJV
The Galatians had experienced the grace of Jesus, but at some point, they seemed to think that the whole grace thing was just too straightforward and easy; they wanted to go back to the old covenant and work strenuously hard (and unsuccessfully) to be right with God by obeying the law of Moses!
We learnt yesterday about how we are justified by grace which comes through faith, not by the works that we do. Paul takes that conversation a step further today:
But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. Galatians 3:11
Unfortunately, we sometimes get carried away (maybe by the ‘bewitching’ village people, like Paul suggested) and we forget that faith is not a one-time historic thing. It is a continuous way of life.
As much as our salvation experience can be traced back to that one moment in time, faith in Jesus is an every second of everyday thing- it is how we must live our lives as Christians.
And let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith… Hebrews 12:1-2 KJV
Salvation by faith in Jesus is just the starting line of the race set before us, and we run this race by constantly looking to Jesus. We should never be caught at any point on this journey looking away from our source, Jesus. That’s what Paul calls foolishness.
Are you so foolish and so senseless and so silly? Having begun [your new life spiritually] with the [Holy] Spirit, are you now reaching perfection [by dependence] on the flesh? Galatians 3:3 AMPC
Those who trust in themselves are foolish. But those who live wisely are kept safe. Proverbs 28:26 NIRV
It is wisdom to trust God and stay continually focused on Him!
Accepting and depending on the grace of God is a lifelong commitment as a Christian.
You would think there’ll be no need to come around this reminder: Why should I need to be reminded about accepting this correct grace-filled way of doing life? It should be a no brainer. But you see, just like the Galatians, we all have the tendency to be foolish sometimes and try to get things done by relying on ourselves, or by our own power (the hard and absolutely wrong way). It’s even more foolish to have tasted this grace thing before- we’ve seen Jesus save our souls, we’ve seen him show up time and time again, never by our power, but then, we slip into trying to get things right on our own, by relying on our own power, and totally forgetting that we have absolute access to the grace of God in abundance.
Think about that in the many practical things of life: Were you ever trusting God for a job or some opportunity? You ‘faithed it’ and miraculously- not by any perfection on your own part, but by the grace of God- you got the job and then few months down the line, you have a major target or an unbelievable deadline to meet, then you start to live in the weight and helplessness of your inability in yourself. CHILL! The object of your faith did not disappear, the Spirit of grace did not retire from giving more grace. Refuse to be foolish! keep the same faith! depend on grace!
Or were you addicted to something before you believed on and accepted Jesus and then got saved. Maybe it was then a beautiful few days (or hours?) of honeymoon with Jesus, then it seemed that you were back to the ‘realities’ of pressures and failures? Now you’re thinking ‘maybe I’ll never be free’ … CHILL! Self-control is a fruit that the Spirit of grace works in you. It is only by the grace of Jesus that you can be healed from addictions! It is the grace of God that can teach you how to live the godly and righteous life (Titus 2:11-12, Romans 6:14) Refuse to be foolish! keep the same faith! Depend and rely on grace, not on your self-effort or striving!
Does relying on grace mean that we should fold our hands in laziness and do nothing? Jesus Himself invites us to rest from our works- He then offers to show us how we should work:
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly. Matthew 11:28-30 MSG
Are you struggling with the demands of work? Look to Jesus, walk with Him and work with Him! Are you struggling in cycles of addiction and sin? Look to Jesus- walk with Him and work with Him! Are you in need so bad you don’t know where to turn? Look to Jesus! That’s what wise Christians do, and if you fail again and your gaze slips from his face, don’t linger away, look to Jesus again!
Keep the faith! Depend on grace! Do the work that flows through from depending on His grace
Would you go into today (and tomorrow and the day after) looking to Jesus and His promises, ready to trust Him and depend on the grace that He supplies to go through the day? As you look to Him, you learn to walk with Him and work with Him.
See what God says to you
My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness 2 Corinthians 12:9 TPT
Today, I refuse to be foolish! I began by God’s Spirit, and I will continue by God’s Spirit and I will finish well by that same Spirit of grace!
Something to Pray.
Would you ask God to show you areas where you’ve slipped into striving in and relying on your own power and make a renewed commitment to trust him completely in those areas?
Oluwaloni serves as a songwriter and worship leader. He also leads a Life Group at Sycamore