Slavery is a real thing.
It’s disgusting and it needs to end.
We fancy it up with complex names like human trafficking, but it is the same horrible system which existed before the American Civil War, before William Wilberforce boldly spoke out in England, and during the Roman Empire at the time of Paul.
Galatians Chapter Four opens with Paul’s well-known argument against slavery, not on the massive oppressive scale, but individually, the kind we submit ourselves to. Slavery is devastating and we should fight with all our might against it. The devil’s brand of slavery is eternally devastating, and it requires a fight too. We need a Savior in this, more than ever.
Paul uses the language of slavery because, I think, one of his main points throughout Galatians is a very simple:
“Why would you want that?!”
Given the option, real options, no one chooses slavery. Would you ever want to be a slave? No.
Read Galatians 4:1-7 and ask yourself this question:
Where in my life am I submitting to slavery that God did not intend for me?
I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, 2 but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 3 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. 4 But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. 6 And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
You are not a slave, but a son.
Through the Word, through Sunday School, through the Body of Christ, and through the Holy Spirit we know this. God lifts the scales from our eyes, and we know about Jesus. We know what He gives us. Praise the Lord! Now…
it’s time to grow up.
I mean this in love.
Paul means this in love.
This is sweet Gospel, friend. This is not the weight of law the Judaizers were handing out.
We need Christ and we need one another. We can know something so well that we become a slave to the knowledge of it. We let knowledge rule and forget that we were meant to grow. We let knowledge take the place of real and true intimate relationship with God. We stop at elementary principles (v.3), content to be a slave, rather than sitting in our true role as heir, son, letting God mold and shape us in back-and-forth relationship, conversing with Him in His Love and Truth each day.
This may seem far removed from human trafficking, but it unfortunately isn’t. Satan uses our desire to remain children in the faith, in so many ways in life.
When my faith remains only as knowledge, it is difficult for my soul to be touched by the struggle around me. My eyes remain closed to people, including modern slavery, broken marriages, and all hurting faces of different griefs.
The beauty is, God loves children too. He doesn’t love us less when we’re immature or more when we’re grown.
God through Paul assures us that we do have relationship with God, no matter what Satan would say. We can cry out –
It doesn’t completely make sense, this growing up, this moving past elementary principles and into deep and meaningful relationship with God, but it’s not necessarily supposed to. There’s the freedom in that too.
You take the reins, dear Savior. I am no longer a slave, but Your child, I give You control to maneuver this ship that is my life. Free me a little more each day, to continue living in this growing relationship with You.
And in relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, our Savior, we rest in our salvation, our relationship with Him, just enough to care about everyone else’s.
Freedom from slavery, freedom as children, freedom to grow.
I want all the freedom in Christ.
What do growth and knowledge have in common? What differences exist between growth and knowledge?
In what ways do you think knowledge of Christ gets in the way of relationship with Christ?
What “Abba, Father” concerns would you bring before God today in freedom?