But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? ... I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain. (Galatians 4:8-11 NKJV)
In reading through Paul's letters to the churches these past few weeks, I am relating in some way to how Paul must have felt when he expressed some of his concerns to his massive "flock". Aside from Paul's thankfulness for the people of faith at these churches, a prevalent theme in his writings is an expression of distress over their apparent straying from the dedication to the faith that they had been taught. Paul is perplexed at how they could have strayed from a rock solid faith because Paul knows how powerful the gospel is (Romans 1:16-17). After all, why would someone stray from something so good?
I appreciate Paul's candor in telling the truth as he sees it. We know that Paul loved these people. However, it appears that his statement was not well received because he asks the question later in his letter:
"Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?" - Gal 4:16 NKJV
The truth is hard to take and the truth is hard to tell, isn't it? Generally speaking, these truths of which Paul writes also typify the church today. We can read the passage at the top of this post (Gal 4:8-11) and be convicted even today, almost 2000 years later, of the state of our churches and the state of our hearts. We have strayed from God because although we are known by God, we don't know God deeply because we are not in God's word enough to develop an unshakeable faith. Poor Paul. He was afraid he had labored in vain. Pastors today who are passionate about equipping people with God's Word must feel the same frustration, but nonetheless they must keep pressing on to do the work that God has called them to do.
So how can we keep from straying from our faith? How can we protect ourselves from falling prey to false doctrine, fear and feeble worship? We can continue in our faith by striving to know the mind of God through the daily reading of His word. God's Word, when allowed to dwell in our hearts and bounce around through are minds, has the power to change our lives and enable us to live the way God intended us to live - in a way that will show others that Paul's (and other co-laborers for the gospel) labor was not in vain. Let's dive in to its riches today.
For Further Thought:
1) How well do you know God? Gauge this by how often you are reading His "mind", His Word.
2) In what area of your life have you slipped into false thinking or "idol" worship? If you have, what do you think is the cause in your own life?
3) How do you react when confronted with the truth? Is it the reaction that God would be pleased with?