If there is one thing I hate, it’s getting cut off in traffic. To be cruising along the road, and to have someone cut in right in front of me. At best, I have to break suddenly to avoid an accident, at worst I’d have to get into another lane entirely.
And here, Paul gives a similar picture. The Galatians were running the Christian race, headed for the goal, running in grace. And suddenly someone swerved in front of them hindering them from their goal. Worse, it forced them to swerve off the path of grace and onto the path of law. So Paul says,
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you and kept you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. (7-8)
In other words, “You were doing so well. Who was it that got you off the path of grace and onto law? It certainly wasn’t Jesus. He called you to the path of grace through faith in him.
He then said,
“A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” (9)
The traditional interpretation of this passage is that this false teaching of these Judaizers would quickly spread if the Galatians didn’t watch out. It strikes me though that there is another application.
If we start letting in the idea that we must keep the law in order to be accepted by God even a little bit, it will start to dominate our whole way of thinking and our whole way of life. And instead of walking in joy and humility, knowing that we are already accepted though we don’t deserve it, we’ll slowly start walking with either feelings of condemnation for not being able to keep the law, or feelings of pride for thinking that we’re able to do so.
Yoda wasn’t entirely correct. Anakin Skywalker ultimately was able to escape the dark path, but before he could do so, it made a total mess of his life.
And so Paul told the Galatians, “Don’t give into circumcision. If you do, it won’t stop there. You’ll need to keep every other law perfectly in order to be accepted by God, and every day, every hour, every second, you’ll have to worry about keeping it perfectly or you won’t make it. It will come to totally dominate your way of thinking and keep you from the freedom and joy God wants you to have.”
You may ultimately escape that path, but it will wreck havok not only in your life, but possibly in the lives of those around you, particularly if you start walking around in pride judging them for not “measuring up.”
How about you? Are you walking each day in the grace of God? Or are you walking each day in pride or feeling under God’s condemnation? Don’t let yourself get cut off. Remember that we are already accepted as his children. And as you do, you’ll find yourself living this life as God intends, in the freedom and joy of a child of God.