Galatians 6:17-18 NCV
2 Corinthians 11:22-33 NKJV
2 Timothy 4:7 NCV
I laughed out loud when I read Galatians 6:17a...”so do not give me any more trouble.”
Oh my, I laughed. I have said that line to my three sons more times than I care to remember. See...my three sons are all strong-willed in their own right. Now, it’s pretty common for a family to have one strong-willed child, and in a larger family you’ll find two strong-willed children, but three out of three is well beyond the norm. I also need to add that in her own right, my daughter is strong-willed as well, but because she is the oldest and had significant maternal instincts, she became a strong-willed force who faced off against her three brothers whenever I wasn’t in the room.
Suffice it to say, whenever we went somewhere in public we were NOT the kind of family who lined up and remained quiet. Plus, 90% of the time their dad was working (especially when we were at church). More than once the unofficial ‘women’s league’ at church had someone who said to me, “do you know what your sons just did?”
I would smile and say, “well, I will certainly make it my business to find out.” Sigh...
Then I would issue the warning (yet again), “do not give me any more trouble”.
Paul came to his statement “do not give me any more trouble” at the end of Galatians 6 because he had earned the right to say those words.
In Galatians 6:17b, he explains why he had earned the right when he said, “I have scars on my body that show I belong to Christ Jesus. My brothers and sisters,”
Paul knew what he had suffered for Jesus, and he had some idea what he would suffer for Jesus in the future. It is believed that Paul wrote Galatians around 53. A.D., and somewhere around 55-56 A.D. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pauline_epistles) he wrote these words to the church in Corinth explaining what he had suffered for serving Jesus:
2 Corinthians 11:22-33 NKJV
“Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I. Are they ministers of Christ?—I speak as a fool—I am more: in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequently, in deaths often. From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods; once I was stoned; three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been in the deep; in journeys often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils of my own countrymen, in perils of the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and toil, in sleeplessness often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness— besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation? If I must boast, I will boast in the things which concern my infirmity. The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the governor, under Aretas the king, was guarding the city of the Damascenes with a garrison, desiring to arrest me; but I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and escaped from his hands.”
When Paul wrote his final comments to the churches in Galatia he HAD suffered for Jesus and he knew he wasn’t finished suffering. He would not (and did not) give up the fight. Paul’s words to his young brother in Christ in 2 Timothy 4:7, say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
When Paul wrote those words just before his death (believed to be 67 A.D.) he knew he was near the end of his life on earth (https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-pauline-epistles/second-timothy).
We know the Emperor Nero burned Rome in 64 A.D. and he was determined to eradicate the people who were followers of the “Way” of Jesus. No doubt, Paul was high up on Nero’s list of people to eliminate (https://bibleresearchtoday.com/2019/02/27/the-death-of-the-apostle-paul/).*
Paul knew his days were numbered.
As Paul wrote Galatians 6:18, he closed his last words to the churches in Galatia with a final blessing, “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.”
With these words Paul, who had given his all to help this young church succeed and thrive for Jesus prayed that they would live by the grace of God in Jesus. When he wrote the final blessing to the church around 53 A.D., we do not know if Paul had any idea when or how his death would come. Near the end of his life when Paul wrote the letters to his younger student Timothy, he would have had some idea that the end was near for him. As always, Paul’s main focus was on Jesus and the churches. He did certainly, “fight the good fight” for Jesus.
As I look back on the days I told my young sons, “don’t give me any more trouble”, I now smile because I see what God has done in their lives. I am indeed blessed beyond measure by their integrity and love for God. I am blessed by the integrity and love of God I see in their children. My eight grandchildren, ages 20 to 5 years old bless me.
My youngest grandson just turned five years old. For his birthday he wanted a hermit crab and a home for his hermit crab. Via FaceTime from South Carolina he took me on a tour this week of his crab and the hermit crab dwelling. He taught me tons about his new crab that God fashioned for a purpose. I am amazed that my grandson knows so much about his new crab that Is part of God’s world. He understood how God helps the hermit crab thrive and survive.
As I watch my grandchildren learn about how our world continues to ‘thrive and survive’ in God’s world, I realize I am blessed beyond measure.
Our own Scars and Grace make that possible. While my scars in no way compare to those of the Apostle Paul, I remember the times when I tried so very hard to rely on God’s grace when I felt like I failed to keep my children quiet. We were for sure a rowdy bunch, but God has used that rowdy Spirit In them to fight the good fight. My oldest son who is a strong-willed Lt. Col. is finishing his time with the USAF in September. We do not know what God has for him next, but he sure would love to return ‘home’ to the place of his birth (which is also where I was born). My prayer is that God will open new doors for him on his journey. It sure would bless me to have them living in the same state. For 20 years he’s lived in seven or eight states and he’s lived in Iraq. God did know what he was doing all along.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: New Doors
If you or your loved ones are facing major changes, ask God to show you the way as He opens new doors.
In God, Deborah
*this is a wonderful history that includes great references: https://bibleresearchtoday.com/2019/02/27/the-death-of-the-apostle-paul/