"God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him in the midst of loss, not prosperity." --John Piper

Monday, November 15, 2010

Running a good race

Based on Galatians 5:7-12

The Galatians had started out on the right foot. They were "running a good race." The picture I see here is of a marathon runner who has kept a good pace, is running with a good strategy. One that is not too fast or too slow, but will give them a good chance of finishing and even winning the race.

But someone cut in on them. Maybe it was a supposedly slower runner who wasn't supposed to be so good. So they doubted their strategy. Maybe they needed to pick up the pace, do something different.

Doesn't that sound like the way that Satan works? Faith? How do you expect to get to heaven merely on faith? Look, see my works? See how God has blessed me? God wants more than just faith. Now if you will just send a $20 seed gift of faith, then God will surely bless you. If you will tithe and even throw in some extra, surely that will make an impression on God. If you will throw away that beer and wine, that is what God wants from you. If you will...

That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you.

Paraphrase: Jesus wouldn't ask you to do that.

Huh? Didn't Jesus say, "go the extra mile?" Didn't he say, "to marry a woman who was divorced is adultery?" Didn't he say to the rich young man, "Go and sell all you have, then come and follow me?"

Yes, he said all of those things and more. But always in the context of "and that still isn't enough." Jesus understood and taught that it is not the act that saves us, it is our heart, our faith. And real faith demands a response. No response is valid unless done out of faith.

If I am confident in my strategy, seeing a slower runner in front of me does not make me doubt myself.

That silly circumcision group, trying to bring the law back into that which only comes by grace! If I am required to do anything to obtain salvation, then why the cross?

Paul makes an interesting statement in verse 11. "If I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted?" In other words, if I give in and just preach what they want me to, then why all the hubub? If I preach a cross-less message, all will be well with these trouble-makers. And heck, that sells much better anyway. But I can't do that. Because a cross-less message is meaningless for salvation. It might make for a better community, but it is meaningless for salvation.


Gary Arnold said...

Nothing we do, include tithe, impresses God. That is works, and works is dead.

Jesus died on the cross and paid it all. Tithing ended when the Levitical priesthood ended per Hebrews 7:5,12,18.

Giving should come from the heart, not under compulsion, and surely not to impress God. Unless it is totally from the heart, out of love, and for no other reason, God doesn't accept it.

Spherical said...

Thanks Gary, I couldn't agree more. Tithinig is just one more "filthy rag" that people who can't let go of the fact that is nothing we can do to impress God just won't let go of.