But now you know the true God. Really, it is God who knows you. So why do you turn back to those weak and useless rules you followed before? Do you want to be slaves to those things again? You still follow teachings about special days, months, seasons, and years. I am afraid for you, that my work for you has been wasted. Galatians 4:9-11
But now you know…
These four words seem so simple, but they cause pause. Faith changes things. Knowing God changes perspective, priorities, and behavior. Knowing God realizes God knows you. Knowing God involves moving forward.
In these verses, Paul is warning followers to not turn back.
What is behind you that you need to refuse to return to in order to move forward?
Our pasts brought us to our presents, but we need to fully live our presents in order to get to our futures. The past might be comfortable, because we established habits – and those habits have not always been healthy. We might have even thought they were helpful and productive at the time, but once we assume God’s perspective through our faithful relationship with him, we don’t need the old assumptions, excuses, and habits. We need to invite God to transform our lives.
Paul refers to “special days, months, seasons, and years” because many of the people to whom he was speaking were trying to revert to the old laws and traditions by which they had once adamantly lived. Those laws and traditions served a purpose. In fact, they were biblical. The issue is they were remnants. They had been replaced with the new covenant of a personal relationship with Jesus. It was no longer essential to live under the covenant of the Old Testament, because since Jesus came to earth and died, making the way for the Holy Spirit, helping us with life on earth in preparation for eternal life, the new covenant prevails.
Without intentional effort, we will not grow forward. We will default to what is comfortable to us. We gravitate to what we know. When we begin a relationship with Jesus, even when we want to leave our former lives behind, even when we have a burning desire to continually seek and obey God, we will struggle in at least some areas of life. What we’ve been taught and have practiced our entire lives up to the point we begin a relationship with God is difficult to reverse or replace.
In what areas do you most struggle to grow spiritually?
Perhaps you can think of people who seem consistent in their faith in many ways, but there’s that one area that doesn’t seem to fit. You don’t understand how they haven’t grown in that one area. It’s so obvious to you. It’s not an area in which you struggle. You likely have your own.
We can easily compare ourselves to others and rationalize that “at least I’m better than _______”! (We can also compare ourselves to others and rationalize that we’ll never measure up to someone.) But God doesn’t measure you against anyone else. You have a purpose to fulfill in this season of life as well as in life overall, and only you can fulfill the specific purpose he has for you. He brings people into your life not to compare yourself to but to walk alongside you. And everyone will not help you grow. Consider several verses further along in Galatians 4:
Those people are working hard to persuade you, but this is not good for you. They want to persuade you to turn against us and follow only them. It is good for people to show interest in you, but only if their purpose is good. This is always true, not just when I am with you. My little children, again I feel the pain of childbirth for you until you truly become like Christ. (Galatians 4:17-19)
Consider who is in your life who pours into you in ways that pull you away from God. (Keep in mind anyone who is not intentionally helping you grow toward God is pulling you away from God. There is no neutrality.)
Consider who is in your life who pours into you in ways that help you grow toward God.
Who are you pouring into right now, helping her grow toward God?
How might you be pulling someone away from God?
Don’t simply skim over these questions. Be honest with yourself. Let God reveal the reality of your relationships. Let God reveal the reality of your priorities. Let God reveal the truth of your faith. He longs for you to long for him in this season – and in every season of your life. Your enthusiasm will ebb and flow, but your commitment to God isn’t about feelings. God is passionately pursuing you. Who or what are you passionately pursuing?