“What has happened to all your joy? …” – (Galatians 4:15a) Paul did not mince words while communicating with the Galatians. He was greatly concerned, as he had heard that they were returning to the letter of the law, rather than remaining in the freedom found through the saving grace of Jesus Christ.
As a spiritual parent of sorts, Paul was passionately protective of the Galatians. He did not want for even one of them to be caught up in legalism and lose the joy that they had found in their salvation, that came through faith in Christ alone. His exhortation for the Galatians, is meant for us as well. Legalism was the joy thief of the time, and often is for us still, today.
“Legalism can take away joy because:
1) It makes people feel guilty rather than loved.
2) It produces self-hatred rather than humility.
3) It stresses performance over relationship.
4) It points out how far short we fall rather than how far we’ve come because of what Christ did for us.
Are we living by faith in Christ, or by trying to live up to the demands and expectations of others?” (NIV footnotes for Galatians 4:15)
through Jesus alone;
not by good deeds,
as foundation stone.
Law shows us sin,
not God’s gift of grace;
to know true joy,
Christ we must embrace.
Let not the thief,
steal that which is yours;
the peace of God,
He freely outpours.
As we seek Christ,
we come to know joy;
where they once dwelled,
guilt and shame are destroyed.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that in You, we are set free from guilt and shame, and that You forgive us from our every sin as we come and confess before You. Thank You that we are no longer bound by legalism that would dictate that we have to worship or pray or do things in a specific way in order to be heard by You. Thank You that by Your grace, You made the way for us to come before You, freely, unencumbered, so that our joy may be complete in You. Forgive us for thinking that joy has anything to do with our surrounding circumstances, and help us to remember that joy is that deep-rooted knowledge that You are with us and the hope that we have of a future secure in You. May the joy within us be contagious, and be a cause of curiosity in those who do not yet know You. Help us to love without limits, as You love us; and may many come into a saving relationship with You. Be glorified as we go forth in joy. Amen.
© Shannon Elizabeth Moreno and Revelations in Writing, May 2011 – present.
Let the heavens rejoice, let the earth be glad. – I Chronicles 16:31