Galatians 4:8-11: Freedom and idols

Today’s post was written by Meredith Bowman. Thanks Meredith!

I’ll never forget the day I received my first idol. I’m not talking about Billy Idol or American Idol. I’m talking about a good ‘ole fashioned statue that people worship to gain favor with that god.

It was a fertility idol. It was about six inches high and made of clay. It was molded to resemble a naked woman squatting to give birth – and the baby was literally coming out of her! (A lovely addition to any fireplace mantel for sure.)

A sweet friend gave it to us during our season of infertility. She was traveling by bus in another country and saw a street vendor selling them out her window. She got so excited she asked the driver to pull over so she could buy one for us. With great expectation she brought it home and placed it in our hands.

Obvious and not so obvious. Obviously as believers we know better. Jim and I weren’t about to give it a special place in our home and pray to it, hoping we would gain favor with God and then conceive. Identifying this idol was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, most things that become idols in our lives aren’t as obvious to spot.

That’s what happened to the Galatians. They couldn’t see their own idolatry. After all, they weren’t worshiping statues. “You are observing special days and months and seasons and years!” Galatians 4:10. At first glance I don’t see any idols either. To me, the observation of those days was a good thing! Each festival and every season identified in the law was put in place by God to help His people remember Him and His history of unwavering faithfulness. Why were the Galatians being corrected for that?

Their actions weren’t to blame. It was the motive behind their actions. The reason they were observing those days wasn’t so they could remind themselves of God. They were trying to win favor with God and earn their salvation by observing those days.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. This section of Galatians was an eye-opener for me. I knew to be wary of idols lurking on the street corner, but I never thought I could be tempted toward idolatry from my very own Bible.

The Beatitudes. The Great Commission. The “put-offs and the put-ons.” The pages of Scripture are chock full of instructions for godly living. But if we are not careful, we can easily become like the Galatians and exchange our freedom for slavery. These good things we “get” to do, can now become things we “have” to do to please God and earn His favor.

The theme of our Galatians blog has been freedom from…freedom for. We have been freed from good works so that we can be free for good works! How awesome is that!

2 comments on “Galatians 4:8-11: Freedom and idols

  1. Natalie says:

    Meredith, I have been encouraged by how you explained this thank you.We get to instead of have to is a very helpful statement. I pray God continues to teach me how to apply these truths in the moments of trial. Thank you for your words. 🙂

  2. Meredith says:

    Thanks for your encouragement Natalie. The concept of freedom from…freedom for is so new to me. For years, I only lived in the former. I knew what kind of sinner I was and how much I needed a Savior. But that is where I stopped. I hadn’t considered what God had freed me for. I feel like a new world has opened up to me through this study of Galatians. I’m glad we get to enjoy our freedom together!