Reading from Galatians 3 this morning reminded me how easily pilgrims veer off course. The path seems clear, but there are times when the distractions of the world and pride of the heart make us think that other paths get to the same destination.
Paul wants to know one thing: is your salvation from you or God (my shortened paraphrase of 3:2-3)? He is asking rhetorically, he knows the answer. It is not by works, not by reputation, not by family name. You don’t get into God’s family because of your status, your financial package, or your standing with the right officials. You don’t get to fellowship with a holy God just because you go to church, use the Jesus hashtag, or drive around with a Christian bumper sticker on your car.
My life and my acceptance by God cannot come any other way other than believing in Jesus Christ, it comes through faith.
Righteousness and acceptance comes through faith so that it results in God getting the glory…no credit to me, no recognition for me. In fact, me failing in this life as I walk with Jesus on the road to eternity doesn’t change Jesus’ perfection, and that is what my relationship with God is based on.
“For you are all sons (and daughters) of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ, have clothed yourselves with Christ.” 3:26-27
The New Living Translation ends the chapter like this, “You are his heirs, and God’s promises to Abraham belongs to you.” 3:29
Connecting these life-altering truths to my life today.
My identity, thankfully, does not come from what I do. This includes my title, my assignment, even in this thing we call “full-time service” to the Lord. Why am I more thankful than ever for that? Because my title, my assignment, was just ripped out of my hands. Yes, by the evil plans of wicked people who oppose the gospel, but in the end, God’s sovereign hand with purpose must be meaning for all of this to turn out for his good. Oh how I have been rehearsing the life of Joseph in my mind since this past summer.
The reminder then in Galatians brings me back to the gospel. Honestly, it fights (and wins) the battle that rages in my head.
I struggle to admit that I’m looking for recognition—both from God and others. I would be lying if I said that serving God has never included the motivation of another way to make God look upon me favorable. Deep in my heart, that lie gets tossed around more than I want to admit.
I know that I can’t earn my way into heaven, but that doesn’t stop me from trying (old self pops up often). I still think that if I can be good enough, smart enough, or successful enough (in ministry), than God and others will accept us.
So reading Galatians 3, I ask myself these questions: What are you fooling yourself with? Does God accept you because of what you do, what you accomplish, what you have done for his kingdom work? Where is your identity?
Paul answers me in this chapter, or rather, God answers me. You are a son of God through faith in Christ Jesus. If you belong to him, then you are an heir (already). Jesus redeemed you from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for you. The righteous shall live by faith. No one is justified by the Law.
This must be settled in my heart!
Lord, thank you for the completed work on the Cross. Thank you for this fresh reminder this morning and for searching my heart. You find remnants of my old self trying to resurface. You find old thinking that tells me the lie that the summer events take me down a few notches in your book of acceptance. Thank you that what I call failure does not remove me from your presence, does not kick me out of your circle. Jesus, you are my Lord and my redeemer, and I know that you are able to redeem even the evil that played out against us. You can redeem the hard situations that our loved ones continue to live in. You don’t need me to redeem the wrongs of this world and the wrongs that have come our way. Those are not easy words for me to say. I want to be the solution. I want to be important in your kingdom work. I want to be an agent of change in other’s lives. I want to be recognized….but Lord, today you have reminded me that my desires and aspirations (if I am honest) usually detract from you and don’t line up with your plans. Align my heart…realign my heart….reorient my heart so that my steps are in sync with yours. Thank you Jesus for your perfect sacrifice and victory over death and sin through your resurrection. I am your heir….help me to know what that really means so that I can walk this path with eyes fixed on you.