In Galatians four, Paul was presenting his concerns to the believers of Galatia. Those who had initially embraced the gift of grace given by Christ Jesus, were setting it aside so that they could turn back to observing the laws. Clearly, full of great concern, Paul pleaded with his fellow followers of the faith. What has happened to all your joy?… – (Galatians 4:15a) Paul perceived that the Galatians had lost the joy of their salvation because of legalism.
Legalism is a dangerous and slippery slope, and a thief of joy. It 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. – (NIV footnotes)
If guilt, self-hatred, need to perform, or inadequacy are ruling our lives, we need to check our focus. Is faith reigning in our hearts, or have the reigns of legalism somehow crept into the corners and began to steal our joy? Let us throw off every burden that hinders us and allow Christ’s grace to cover us. May we walk by faith, and leave the links of legalism that try to bind us, far behind.
must learn to let go;
walk away from chains,
and by faith, follow.
Faith receives His grace,
and lets go of guilt;
embraces His love,
where His peace is built.
It knows not self-hate,
needs not to perform,
is secure, set free.
It does not point out,
how far we fall short;
but rather looks up,
to Him who supports.
May we walk by faith,
embracing what’s true;
it’s all about Him,
not how much we do.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You that You are the Source of all grace and joy. Thank You that You came as the fulfillment of the law, as not one of us could ever truly follow the law. Thank You that Your grace is a gift that You give freely, and not something that we can somehow earn. Forgive us for any area of our lives where we may have fallen into the trap of legalism. Illuminate the truth and lead us out of the spaces and mindsets You never intended for us. Teach us to trust You and Your glorious gift of grace with all that we are. Lead us to live and love in the fullness of Your grace as You intended, and may many come to know You as a result. Be glorified, O God, as we walk in the freedom that Your forgiveness and grace have granted. Amen.
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8