The Confrontational and Caring Pastor
So far so good. But then comes verse 16 and the negative refrain we have seen repeated again and again in Galatians. You accepted me and my message, Paul has repeatedly asserted, but, something has happened. Their response to both him and has message has reversed.
That brings us to verses 17 to 20 of Paul’s attitude to the Galatians. If their reaction to him has changed, his attitude toward them has not. But that does not mean that there is no problem. The current difficulty is not primarily with the Galatians but with those false preachers who have flattered them with attention in order to lead them away from Paul and his gospel and thus shut them out from Christ (verse 17). He does not aim his anger at his Galatian coverts but at those who had come from Jerusalem to teach them that he wasn’t a real apostle (see comments on chapter 1) and that his message of justification by faith alone was insufficient for their salvation. They may have come in the garb of friends, but there were really enemies who did not have the best interests of the Galatians in mind.
It is at that very point in his argument that Pastor Paul’s love and concern for his children in Christ comes to the forefront. He tells them that he had suffered the pains of childbirth once already for them when they became Christians. While that was difficult he is willing to endure it again in order that Christ might be formed in them (Galatians 4:19). Here John Calvin suggest is the pastor’s true work – not to form others to be like himself but to be like Christ. It enables them to find joy in Christ and to live a life of joy in spirit of their earthy problems.
From Pau’s perspective, it is the enemy of Christ that takes the “satisfaction” (RSV), “blessing” (NASB), or “Joy” (NIV) out of Christianity (verse 15) and leads people to see religion as a constant round of legalistic behavior in an attempt to gain assurance that they are finally good enough for God to accept them.
It is just such teaching as these that the Paul’s over every generation must fight. But there is nothing worse than pastors and church members who get confused about the identity of the enemy. The apostle is clear that it is no the stumbling Gallatin members who are the threat but those from Jerusalem who are misleading them. It is unfortunate that the church down through history has always had emissaries “from Jerusalem” who are out to pervert the gospel of justification by grace through faith alone. Fortunately, the church has always had its Paul’s who have had to thunder at the law faction but are also able to change their tone (verse 20) in appealing to struggling saint within the church. The apostle would want each of us to spread God’s joy by having a true pastor’s heart.
It is no accident that Paul pinpoints “joy” as the second aspect of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22. Unfortunately, the kind of law-oriented legalism set forth by those “from Jerusalem” across time robs sincere believers of their joy an blessing. For Legalism can steal joy because it makes people feel guilty rather than loved; for it stresses performance rather than relationship; and it points out how far short we fall rather than how far we’ve come because of what Christ did for us.”
If you feel guilty and inadequate and our joy as a Christian is gone, check your focus. If you focus is living by the law, then your joy will be gone, but if your focus is living by faith in Christ then you will have joy. If you are trying to live up the demand of other or what other expect of you, then you to will not be joyful. Paul reminds them and reminds us that our joy comes through faith in Christ’s saving grace. This is Paul’s advice for the joyless church and its members today. Give up on the law and trying to please others, instead substitute faith in Christ’s grace and have the joy that only comes from following Christ.