Friday, 29 April 2016
But it is good to be zealous in a good thing always, and not only when I am present with you. Galatians 4:18
In the previous verse, it was noted that the Judaizers zealously courted the Galatians, but it was not for a good purpose. Rather, their intent was “to exclude you, that you may be zealous for them.” Now Paul acknowledges that zeal “in a good thing” is always good. There is an emphasis on “always.” He does not want to diminish what is good while correcting what is bad.
It should be noted that “zealous” is in the passive voice. This is then speaking of zealousness towards the Galatians, not their zeal. In other words, if someone is zealous for them in a good way, then that is always good; however, when someone is zealous for them as the Judaizers were, then it is not a good thing.
As an example, if someone is zealous to convert someone who believes in the deity of Christ into a person who believes that Christ is merely a created being, then their zeal is bad. However, if someone is zealous to have their students properly handle the doctrines of the Bible and to grow into sound Christian maturity, then their zeal is good. Paul acknowledges that even if it wasn’t him, in such a case it would still be good. This is indicated by the words, “…and not only when I am present with you.”
He is not jealously guarding the Galatians only for himself. Instead, he is jealously guarding them for the sake of the truth. Any true teacher will receive his approval. The reason he is saying this to them is to show that he isn’t just jealous because they have found a new group of people to follow, but because the group they have chosen to follow are a bunch of heretics. As a father to his children, he is heartbroken over this.
The Judaizers want them to fall under the Law of Moses; they want them in bondage, and they want to control their very lives. Paul wants them to be free in Christ, held captive by His grace, and filled with joy in the Holy Spirit. To him, it doesn’t matter who leads them down that second path, as long as it is the correct path.
Life application: Never underestimate the love of a pastor for those he teaches. His zeal towards their souls may seem as if he is overly zealous of protecting them, but it is better to be in that position than to be led down Apostasy Avenue by those who would steal them away into bondage. Be patient with your pastor if he is exuberant about your doctrine. Understand that if he is sound in his theology, he is looking out for your best interest.
Thank You, O God, for the faithful pastors, preachers, and teachers that You send into our lives. It may be a chance turn of the dial on the radio, or it may be a regular Sunday trip to church, but when Your word is properly explained and carefully handled by faithful men of God, it is a blessing to our souls. Please heap an additional blessing of joy upon them today. Amen.