"I am afraid for you, lest I have laboured for you in vain."
Text: Galatians 4:11
A RITUALISTIC RELIGION
The apostle Paul had deep personal experience in a ritualistic religion. He had been brought up as a Pharisee and thus he knew first hand, what ritualistic religion was all about.
1. Rituals of prayer
2. Rituals with reference to washing hands before meals
3. Rituals concerning fasting
The above is only a small glimpse of how ritualism could affect genuine faith adversely. The focus would be diverted to learning how to keep rituals properly.
A RITUALISTIC CHRISTIANITY
Paul knew that ritualism can creep into Christianity. Thus he addressed this problem very bluntly and candidly.
You observe days and months and seasons and years.
I am afraid for you, lest I have laboured for you in vain.
1. “You observe days and months and seasons and years”
a) The Jews in the Old Testament days kept these rituals. (Isaiah 1:13-14; Zechariah 7:1-7).
b) The Jews in the days of Jesus kept rituals too (Mark 7:1-11).
c) These were practised thinking that they pleased God.
2. “I am afraid for you”
a) Paul expressed deep concern.
b) If they were to continue to desire to practise these rituals they would end up being “in bondage”.
3. “Lest I have laboured for you in vain”
a) Paul had laboured hard to establish the Galatian churches.
b) A church is not easily established.
c) Much labour has to be put in.
d) There was now some danger that the labour put in may be in vain.
e) All his efforts could well become undone if the ritualistic approach was pursued.
JESUS’ TEACHING ON THIS SUBJECT
The Lord Jesus had to address this very problem too. He rejected this approach as stemming from “the tradition of men”. Jesus advocated a dynamic faith-relationship with God. The approach to genuine religion was best demonstrated in the way He Himself related to God! True faith involved the heart and never just mere adherence to sets of ritualistic practices. The apostle Paul was emulating the Lord Jesus Christ when he dealt with this particular Galatian problem.