Galatians 4:21-31: Freedom and amnesia

I was climbing into the passenger’s seat one evening when I started whining to my husband.

“I’m sooooo sleepy, I just can’t seem to wake up.  I wish the clouds would clear.  You know I didn’t sleep well last night and now it’s caught up to me.  My brain won’t work.  I didn’t get anything DONE today. I hate it when I feel this way.  I’m such a SLUG!”

“Rondi!”  Mark’s voice interrupted my stream of self-talk firmly.  “You’re not a slug, you’re a son of God!  You’re an heir!  You’re beloved…”

Right. How quickly I forget.  I so often define myself by what I accomplish.  My fruitfulness seems dependent on my efforts alone.  On the days that I’m energetic and efficient, I zip through my list and feel useful.  On the days that I’m tired or interrupted or the not so proud owner of three broken appliances, oops, make that four, my frustration often spills over into internal name-calling. Idiot!  Dork!  Why do you have to make everything so complicated?  Why can’t you at least get the laundry done?

I’ve forgotten who I am.  Remembering changes everything.

Who are you? I was all set to write a post on fruitfulness when I realized that Paul lands on identity instead.  “So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.”  Our fruitfulness flows from who we are.  If we get that reversed, it will cause all kinds of trouble.

You could say that the Galatians had an inferiority complex, caused by the false teachers in their midst.  After all, they were pure blood…pagans.  They weren’t related to Abraham by any stretch of the imagination.  They weren’t even kissing cousins.  The false teachers rubbed their noses in this deficiency and then offered the solution–make up for your defective identity by obeying the Law.  If you can’t BE us, at least you can ACT LIKE us.

Now I see that same tendency in my own life.  When I feel like I don’t measure up to some kind of standard (frankly, not God’s standard, but my own), I feel defective.  My solution is to jump into hyper drive and work harder.  Anxious striving is the result.

Born free…live free. Paul’s solution for them is God’s solution for me.  They were sons of Abraham by faith. We are, too.  Here are the identity statements in our passage:

  • But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 4:26
  • Now you, brothers and sisters, like Isaac, are children of promise. 4:28
  • So brothers and sisters, we are not children of the law but of the free woman. 4:31

And now read again the wonderful promise of fruitfulness to those who are born of God:

Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear; break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!  For the children of the desolate one will be more than those of the one who has a husband.

Whether your day is easy or hard, whether your work seems barren or fruitful, if you have believed in the Son, you are a son or daughter.  Live free. The fruit will come.

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