Time for some honest self-reflection. When you’re down, or failing, or angry, or just dissatisfied, what is it that’s bothering you? Why are you down, failing, angry, or dissatisfied? What’s at the root of it all?
That’s what Paul is asking his friends. They had started following Jesus so earnestly and so honestly. Now, he is told they are straying from the straight and narrow path of Christ. He wants to know why by posing this question to them. He’s trying to get them to think about it and reach an honest, hard conclusion.
Maybe he’s trying to get us to do the same thing.
When you’re down, failing, angry, dissatisfied, or whatever, why do you feel that way? Paul isn’t being a jerk. He’s speaking on behalf of Jesus, who might just ask the same question. He’s doing root cause analysis, trying to get us to ‘fess up’ to any sins that we’ve done that could be causing our reaction or making us feel a certain way. Chances are, even if it’s buried, something is affecting us.
Especially if we’ve compromised our faith in Jesus somehow. Conscience can be a good thing; like hope, perhaps the best of things. If my conscience bothers me, it’s likely because I’ve done something or something has happened that affects me in a bothering way. It may just be Jesus’ Spirit talking to me, prodding me on to ask why, to get to the bottom of it. To get me to pray, ask for forgiveness, or simply listen for more comfort and guidance. That isn’t an easy thing to do, even if sweet relief and blessed assurance are on the asking side.
Paul is specifically calling out his Galatian friends for veering away from the truth. They had exchanged the truth of the Gospel for the manmade half-truths of old religion. Some people were trying to get the new believers to cling to circumcision, Jewish festivals, and Jewish practices, any of which would water down the Gospel. Were they bothered by it? We don’t know.
But Paul was. He was sufficiently bothered by what they were doing to call them out on it. I can almost hear a voice, Paul’s voice, softly saying, “you were running a good race. You were doing so well. What happened? How did you get here?”
Is that what Paul is saying to you? What happened? Who cut you off?
The next time you feel like your conscience is pricking you, ask yourself if, perhaps, it might just be the Holy Spirit talking. Is it time for some honest but tough self-reflection?
For further reading: 1 Corinthians 9:24, Galatians 5:8
Lord, send Your Spirit to speak to my conscience, to point out when I sin..
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