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October 17, 2021 | Doug Sauder
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“You know that because of physical infirmity I preached the gospel to you at the first.”—Galatians 4:13 (NKJV)
Paul had an uphill battle with the Galatian Christians. Their hearts and minds toward him had become poisoned by a radical element of Judaizers. So as he continues to make his case on why they should accept him and his message, Paul points to the past.
He does so because he wants them to remember the history that existed between them. We get a brief glimpse of this in Acts chapter 13 as Paul first brings the gospel message to the region of Galatia. This began their history with Paul, and he makes special mention that he was suffering from a “physical infirmity” when they first met. Paul was bringing them the spiritual cure for sin as he was physically suffering, and he reminds them of how they responded to him: “And my trial which was in my flesh you did not despise or reject, but you received me as an angel of God, even as Christ Jesus. . . . For I bear you witness that, if possible, you would have plucked out your own eyes and given them to me” (Galatians 4:14-15 NKJV).
At their first encounter, the Galatians received and cared for Paul. They didn’t turn away from him or his illness. In fact, Paul says they would have even given him their own eyes to help him if it were possible! (This is why most believe Paul suffered from an eye condition that would be a life-long “thorn in his flesh.” See 2 Corinthians 12:7-10.)
The point in this is to draw attention to the “relational equity” that existed between them. Paul wasn’t an anonymous passer-by or an apostolic fly-by-nighter. He was someone they knew and cared for. Now watch as he cashes in on this relational equity: “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16 NKJV).
Translation: “How did things get from there to here? Given our history, don’t I deserve the benefit of the doubt concerning the false narratives being spread about me? Shouldn’t you return to receiving rather than rejecting me?” Paul was willing to leverage their past to help them presently.
Our relationships are important. They’re actually gifts from God whether they seem like it or not. They have immense value, and the more we invest in them the more valuable they become. They possess equity, equity that may be called upon when needs arise. Let’s be wise with our relationships. Let’s value them and invest in them because we never know how they may factor in God’s plans.
DIG: Why did Paul point the Galatians to their past encounter?
DISCOVER: For what purpose did Paul leverage his relational equity with them?
DO: Think of ways you can better value and invest in the relationships God has brought into your life.
Pastor Dan Hickling serves our online community, also known as the Calvary Chapel Online Campus. He and his wife Becky have been married for 22 years and have two children, Lauren and Danny. Both Dan and Becky have been part of the CCFL church family for 22 years and have served in full time ministry for 20 of those years.