“My dear children for whom I am again in the
pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…”
Four times I have been witness to the birth of a child. On the first three occasions my wife, KC, had an epidural to dull the pains of labor and childbirth. When my fourth child was born, the anesthesiologist showed up late and the epidural did not take. The difference, let me tell you, is remarkable to behold. Whoever invented that epidural should be awarded the Nobel Prize! My point is this: Labor Hurts!
In today’s passage Paul uses the metaphor of labor to describe the burden which he feels for helping the Galatian believers grow to spiritual maturity. Their continued flirtation with legalism caused Paul great anguish. He longed to see them fully embrace the gospel of grace.
I confess to being shamed by Paul’s example. All too often and easily have I given up on my brothers and sisters in Christ when they failed to live up to my expectations. An alcoholic finds Christ, gets sober, and then falls off the wagon. “Let him go,” I have thought or even said. “He must not mean business with God.” A new believer’s passion starts to wear off and her church attendance becomes sparse and perfunctory. “She knows where to find us if she ever comes around.”
Paul was frustrated with his wayward disciples, to be sure. But his was the frustration of a mother willing to lay down her own life to see the process of new birth through to its ultimate end, “Christ formed in you.”
QUESTION: What about you? When a believer disappoints you and falls back into his former bondage do you raise your eyebrows at their lack of discipline and commitment? Or do you experience labor pains and recommit yourself to the process of his becoming like Jesus? Is there anyone you could contact today, to let them know you have not given up?