Thoughts for Today:When I first met my wife Sherry and we began to date -- no one needed to tell me to buy her flowers, hold her hand as we walked on the beach, or put my arm around her on a chilly evening. These things just happened naturally. Why? Because we were (and still are) in love. The Lord wants to have a similar type of "natural love" in His relationship with us. It is His intention and desire that we be free of obligation so we can respond to that freedom with natural love.
Think about it: If there were rules and regulations that governed how we were to demonstrate affection and relate to our spouses, how long would it take before the natural love response left the relationship? Not very long. In our walk with Christ, legalism will also drain us of our passion for Him.
I've talked to many Christians who have lost their joy -- they feel dry and beaten down. Often the reason is because they have developed a form of their own legalism over the years. They have forced upon their spiritual lives a set of rules that are based on structure, commitment, and vows. And then when they can't keep them, they feel like failures -- empty and drained.
The same thing was happening in Galatia. New teachers (Judaizers) had come into the region and said, "To be truly spiritual you must follow rules and regulations. You must be circumcised and you must follow Jewish traditions." Paul has been saying to the Galatians, "Don't let this happen. Don't depart from what you were taught. Stand strong in your liberty. And if you do, you will find in your relationship with the Lord an even greater energy, generosity and joy than you thought possible."
At the end of the previous chapter, Paul explained the Law was like a Guardian whose primary job was to teach us three things: first, we are all sinners; second, we can't save ourselves so we desperately need a Savior; and third, to bring us to Christ. However, after faith has come (Jesus), there is no longer any need for the Guardian. Why? Because the relationship we had with God based on the Law has been exchanged for a relationship founded in sacrificial love.
Questions to Ponder:Is your relationship with the Lord based on a "natural love"? Or do you worship, study, or otherwise pursue Him based on obligation? How would you describe your relationship with Him -- peaceful, joyful and energetic, or draining, dry and unfulfilled? What needs to change?