I’m left-handed. As such, I have learned that, like it or not, we live in a right-handed world. I was never more aware of this than when I was in first grade and my teacher tried to force me to become right-handed. To him, it was what kids were supposed to do. And he probably thought it would make my life easier. Despite his efforts, I was stubborn, and he wasn’t successful. (We’ll leave it at that.) Once I was released of the pressure to conform to a way of doing something the way “society” wanted me to do it, I blossomed. I was free.
- How have you experienced someone trying to take away your freedom?
READ THE WORD: GALATIANS 5:1-15 (ESV)
5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. 5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.
7 You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth? 8 This persuasion is not from him who calls you.9 A little leaven leavens the whole lump. 10 I have confidence in the Lord that you will take no other view, and the one who is troubling you will bear the penalty, whoever he is. 11 But if I, brothers, still preach circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 12 I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!
13 For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14 For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.
(Today’s questions focus on verses 1-6.)
- What was Paul’s warning in verse 1? What issue made this counsel necessary for the Galatians?
- In verse 2, what did Paul mean when he said “Christ will be of no advantage to you”?
- Why is drawing the parallel of circumcision to a relationship to Christ particularly poignant (vss. 3-4)?
- What is it instead that brings us, and keeps us, in relationship with Christ, according to verse 5?
- Practically speaking, how do we avoid being “yoked in slavery” today, instead living out our freedom in Christ?
RESPOND TO GOD
It may be a bit of a stretch, but the freedom to write with my left hand is an extension of embracing the way God made me to be. That also includes living freely in his grace. Shedding an adherence to religious law or unbiblical cultural expectations, and truly living by faith, is how we flourish without constraint. It’s how we guard the freedom that Christ has purchased for us. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. In order to live it, we must stand firm and walk in the Spirit, by faith.
- Spend time in prayer asking God to make you aware of what cultural or religious strongholds you may need to shed in order to bring yourself into communion with him.