I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong. Galatians 4:12 (NIV).
Without some context, this verse may be hard to understand. During Paul’s initial trip to Galatia, he got sick. Nobody knows specifically what the illness was. We only know he became ill. The parishoners there in Galatia cared for him, tended him as he recuperated. In doing so, they showed unusual kindness, making a life-long friend.
So, when Paul says, “for I became like you,” he’s reminding them that, in his visit, he was at their mercy, dependent on them, and sick. If they (the Galatians) were reverting to old (Jewish) customs, Paul was telling them THEY were sick. That they who had done him such kindness were actually poisoning themselves to be the sick ones, the ones in need of spiritual healing and recuperative mercy.
You know where this is going. Look in the mirror. Is something trying to pull you backwards?
When Jesus tells us to put our sins, our cares, our worries, our everything on Him, He’s telling us to give them up and let them go. To not dwell on past sins, and to repent from them. That means turning away from them. He fully healed us. If we’re going to stay safe from the effects of our sins, we need to keep away from the things that hurt us. Toxic relationships, tempting behaviors, risky or edgy things, you name it: pick your pet sin and whatever triggers you to it, that’s your red flag. It’s waving for you. Stay away.
Better yet, run away from it. Run fast and far. For the Galatians, the sin was being entangled by those who insisted on observing all the traditional Jewish festivals, dates, and traditions. Those ran contrary to the ways Jesus and His disciples had taught. They put the focus on tradition instead of Jesus Christ. Paul told them to run from this because it was making their faith in Jesus weak and sick. Even back then, one day wasn’t any holier than the next, even as we hold some days, traditions, and things sacred, even beneficial to our faith. But if those things start to become more important than simply believing in Christ, better put on your running shoes.
Paul ‘became like’ his friends when he was first with them: needy for help and mercy. Now he was free to give them a different kind of help, reminding them that it was dangerous to get entangled in things of old that don’t fit into Christianity. It’s the same for us, and it isn’t hard to understand. Now go run.
For further reading: Romans 7:1, Galatians 4:13
Lord, keep me from becoming entangled in old sinful practices. Help me to identify them, and to turn away from them. Help me to see that anything contrary to you is sin.
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