Paul wrote a letter to the Christians in the Roman province of Galatia. Christians there dedicated to spiritual peace, spiritual development, and unity in Christ must have been extremely discouraged. Their preoccupation with "putting out fires" among Christians left little time or energy to devote to peace, development, and unity.

Some Jewish Christians from Judea attacked Paul's message to them [the message that converted them!]. They declared Paul's misunderstanding of the gospel produced a flawed message (1:6-2:10). Paul told non-Jews they could be saved through Christ without coming to him through Judaism. These Christians from Judea said Paul was horribly wrong. They told Galatian Christians (a) they were not saved and (b) their sins were not forgiven. Certainly they could be saved and forgiven. However, they were told that was possible only if they approached Christ by learning to do things the Jewish way.

To make matters more discouraging, the leading Jewish apostle visited non-Jewish Christians in Antioch of Syria (2:11-14). At first his visit was wonderful! He had table fellowship with non-Jewish Christians just as he did with Jewish Christians.

However, when he learned Jewish Christians from Judea were coming to Antioch, he ceased table fellowship with non-Jewish Christians. He feared the Jewish Christians who were coming. Insulting these non-Jewish Christians was not enough! He convinced other Jewish Christians there (including Barnabas, a Jewish missionary to non-Jewish people!) to end their table fellowship with non-Jewish Christians. How depressing to all Christians who were not Jews!

Additional discouragement: some non-Jewish Christians there did not understand the essential importance of allowing God's Spirit to bear fruit in their lives. Their lifestyle still was determined by physical desires instead of spiritual commitment (see chapter 5).

As he closed, Paul wrote, "Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith" (Galatians 6:9,10).

Devotion to doing good because of our faith in God and Christ still exhausts us.

So why try? "We are just plain tired!" Ah, but we forget. What? We do not do good because we can permanently "fix" everything in this world. We do good because God does good, and we are God's children. This world is temporary. God's home is not.

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 1 September 2002

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