Monday, April 19, 2010

Pleasing Our Father



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Part 11 of a series through Galatians


Text: Galatians 4:8-20

This week my son brought home his report card. Thankfully, he received A’s and a couple of B’s. Not every child should be expected to get all A’s. But what we don’t like to see is our children regressing academically. When Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians, the Galatians were regressing spiritually.

Parents want what’s best for their children (basic needs, safety, education, health, etc.). What does God want for His children? Four desires that God, our Father, has for us, His children:
  1. Our Father wants us to know Him. "Formerly, when you did not know God, you were slaves to those who by nature are not gods. But now that you know God—or rather are known by God" (vv. 8-9a). The Greek word for "know" (eido) in v. 8 means "to know intellectually." The Greek word for "know" (ginosko) in verse 9 means "to know personally." The Galatians had progressed from ignorance to intimacy. It’s important for parents to have bonding time with their children (reading, playing catch, etc.). Sometimes we feel we are too busy. But our Heavenly Father is never too busy for us. Are we too busy for Him? Are you growing closer to God?

  2. Our Father wants us to live like children who love Him, not slaves who fear Him. "How is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?" (v. 9b). The Greek word for "turning" (epistrepho) is used in the NT to describe: (1) Conversion (repentance + faith). "Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out" (Acts 3:19). "They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God" (1 Thessalonians 1:9). (2) Apostasy (leaving the faith). "It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then of turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: 'A dog returns to its vomit,' and 'A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud'" (2 Peter 2:21-22). The Galatians had turned from paganism but now are considering a turn to Judaism (v. 10), which is really "turning back" to the "weak and miserable principles" of their former life without Christ. ("Turning back" is in the present tense. They have not completed the turn.) If they turn to Judaism, they will return to their life of slavery. A child usually obeys his parents because of the fear of discipline. But the greater motivation is love for his/her parents. God wants us to obey Him because we love Him. Are you enjoying your position as God’s child?

  3. Our Father wants us to love our brothers and sisters. "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. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?" (v. 15-16). In verses 8-11, Paul states the problem. In verses 12-20, he makes his plea. He writes, "You have done me no wrong" (v. 12). When we hurt one another, we hurt our Father more. When I was a child, I often fought with my brother. As adults, we no longer physically fight. But what about envy, bitterness, unkind words, etc.? Christians don’t often get into physical fights with one another, but are we are often guilty of other sins that destroy unity. Parents are saddened when their children don’t get along (especially as adults). It’s tragic when brothers and sisters in Christ become enemies (v. 16). Imagine how God’s heart is grieved. Are you promoting unity in the family of God?

  4. Our Father wants us to become like our older brother. "Until Christ is formed in you" (v. 19b). (Christ, of course, is the unique Son of God.) "For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers" (Romans 8:29). Parents want their children to mature. Our Father’s goal is that we "become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:13). Are you increasing in Christlikeness?
When a child becomes an adult, he/she often defies his/her father’s wishes. Parents are sometimes wrong about what is best for their children. But our Father knows best.
  • He wants us to know Him.
  • He wants us to obey Him out of love.
  • He wants us to love His other children.
  • He wants us to become mature.
Will you make our Father’s desires your desires?