The Beginning, Part 2; Galatians, Chapter 2
Galatians and the Character of God
John 16:33 (NKJV)
Romans 8:28 (NKJV)
Galatians 2:1-10 (NKJV)
Galatians 2:16 (NKJV)
Galatians 2:20 (NKJV)
One thing I’ve learned about the character of God is that he is adamant about giving men and women free will. When God created us He gave us the right to choose...that includes choosing to follow God or choosing not to follow God. We are also given a choice to listen to God and rely on His leading. That does not mean that life is a ‘piece of cake’ when we choose to follow and even listen to God.
Scripture tells us (and shows us) we will have trials. John 16:33 says, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”
The most remarkable thing about God is that when Jesus warned His followers there would be trials, He made promise that came from the Apostle Paul that God would always bring good from those trials. In Romans 8:28, we read, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”
I have found that to be true 100% of the time. So much so that now when I face a trial I ask God to show me the good in the midst of that trial. When I was younger I knew that scripture promised good but I did not see the good in every difficult situation.
I remember once when I was in my thirties when I went on a bus trip with a group of women from my church. I was the Pastor’s wife. One of the women I was sitting with asked me what I thought about abortion. I told her a story about a woman I know who had an abortion when she was young and she had suffered a great deal of grief in her life because of it. Because I knew about the situation I knew this woman had very limited choices at the time. I told her I pray for that woman’s healing from her grief.
I found out (the hard way) that my words would be twisted and torn apart by many of the women in that church. The woman who asked me the question said the woman who had the abortion was being punished by God and she deserved to be punished. After that day, she retold the story I shared with other women and soon, word got out that I believed abortion was okay.
I’ve never been pro-abortion. I don’t know any Christian person who is for abortion and the grief it causes. I do believe judging someone who made a choice is not what I am called to do. I am called to love. I am called to forgive. I choose not to judge others (see Matthew 7:1). I choose not to be judged for my sins and so I choose not to judge.
Even after that day I tried to explain my story but I never did fully recover my reputation with some church members. I regretted that and it caused me sorrow. I regretted the suffering that those broken relationship caused. Still, God promised that various trials will come and He also promised that He will bring good from the trial.
Years later, my takeaway (what I learned) is that I should not expect every person to agree with me or with my words. I learned that when that happens God calls me to forgive them. That’s because when we forgive someone we are not saying we agree with them, we are letting go of the matter and putting it in God’s hands.
Today, I would not hold onto my suffering (and even guilt) from speaking the truth of the Gospel message.
Trials will come but be of good cheer...God has and will overcome them. In the first part of Galatians 2:1-10, Paul speaks truth about his own trials. His truth about his suffering gives me great courage today. The Apostle Paul suffered, and I will suffer, but God will bring good from the ashes of the suffering. Our God protects us, covers us, and gives us strength.
I am also blessed by Paul’s words in Galatians 2:16, “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
I am reminded daily that I am human and I cannot do good enough ‘work’ that will earn my way into heaven. I promise you...I am not capable. I mess things up ALL THE TIME. I hold onto the promise that God does not expect me to be perfect. What God does want is my faith in Him. God wants me to turn to Him, surrender my cares, and receive forgiveness. God is love. God forgives completely.
Finally, in Galatians 2:20, in his letter to the churches in Galatia, Paul wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
These words embody one of the greatest and maybe most misunderstood truths about Christianity today. God is not OUT THERE in a place where we have to go find Him. When we turn to God, He lives IN US. God lives INSIDE us. God is closer than we can imagine. Everyday in every hour...God is WITH US. When we turn to God and surrender (one time) we receive a lifetime of His faithfulness because He loves us. God IN US gives us faith because He is faithful.
THAT, my friends IS the character of the God we serve. He didn’t create and dump. He created, He sent His Son, and He gave us His Spirit IN US. He gave us the WAY.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Speak Prayer to God IN YOU.
Practice talking to God INSIDE you.
In God, Deborah