Welcome to this Monday’s podcast. My name is Tom Finnemore – I’m part of the team here at STC and I’ll pick up our journey through Galatians from Helen Ward who has did an incredible job. Thank you Helen.
Today we’re looking at Galatians 3: 15-22 but focusing on verse 16:
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds’, meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed’, meaning one person, who is Christ.
Have you ever heard that phrase ‘winning at life’? – I’ve heard people use it and seen it on social media a lot #WinningAtLife – It’s become a bit of a ‘thing’. According to Google – it means you’re ‘winning’ or succeeding within the parameters you have set for your life – the notion that happiness is succeeding; Hitting the targets etc…
So, if I were to ask you a question today: Are you winning lockdown life? What would you say? If winning at life is accomplishing your goals? On target? How’s that going for you?
Let me tell you a true story.
We’re home schooling. A big shout out to all the homeschoolers out there. Keep going… and to any primary school teacher – wow, you’re awesome. Thank you!
Let me set the scene: So, last week – my wife Clarissa is working – she’s a Nurse – a shout out for the NHS and the days she works – I’m homeschooling (and working) our 8 year old and our 5 year old while entertaining our 16 month old.
This particular day the first lesson, Maths, starts badly. I’m unable to explain coherently and in way that is helpful to anyone what the school want our eldest daughter to do. She gets frustrated. I get frustrated. The tears start to flow (not mine). She’s missing her friends and tells me how I suck at home school which to be honest, internally I did agree. While this is going on my son has escaped into the garden (I hadn’t noticed) and found a snail. He’s puts the snail into a plastic takeaway container and brings it into the house for safe keeping without my knowledge or permission.
The maths lesson crashes and burns. We write it off as a bad job. I check the school’s website for more ideas and inspiration. We watch a YouTube clip of an 8 year old explaining magic numbers. I have no idea what she’s talking about but she’s to 250,000 views and she’s better at Maths than me which is a huge encouragement to all.
Meanwhile my son has forgotten about the snail he’s brought into the house. I haven’t seen it anyway. Remember that bit because it’s important. Finally after a break and snack and bit of fresh air, we get home school back on track and the morning finishes on a positive note. We make lunch. We eat lunch. After lunch we start to make a dinosaur out of paper, card etc…. I say ‘we’ the person who is supposed to be making the dinosaur has timed out and instead is putting little dinosaur stickers all over my books (again, I didn’t notice because I was making dinosaur legs out of toilet roll…. We finish stage 1 of making a dinosaur but then we have more tears because our eldest daughter wants to put paper mache on the model. I know my limits. I know paper mache is going to press every trigger I have and in the red zone. After much diplomatic intervention we agree not to paper mache. We clear away. We pack down. Have a snack only to discover the snail my son brought into the house was most unfortunately allowed to roam the lounge – no lockdown for that little fella. Kindly he left a trail for us to clear up. We found the snail and he was returned to his natural habitat to be sadly trodden on by my son. We like to think he enjoyed this day’s final hours exploring the living room.
So, if you’d asked me that day – are you winning at life? I’d have said – firmly ‘no’.
It strikes me that it’s easier than ever these days to count whether we’re winning at life. For example, if winning at life for you is exercise – you can count steps? 10,000? For example, you can count your calorie intake. It helps not to eat the cupboard. Each day it tells me if I’m on target or not. If you’re a runner you can use this data to check if you’re on target. You can count how many people watch your Insta stories or like your latest Facebook post.
In one sense there’s nothing wrong with a desire for fitness. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look after our bodies and in a season of social isolation to connect with people through social media. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to achieve stuff or set targets. Metrics aren’t a bad thing.
But they can become a problem if as believers we begin to base our value to God – his love for us – on our self imposed metrics.
This was the issue Paul is addressing among the Galatian churches.
As Helen has stated, one of the key themes of Paul’s letter to the churches he planted in Galatia is to counter the corrosive and deeply divisive thinking that had entered the church. We cannot earn our salvation. It’s a gift. It’s grace and we receive it.
There is always a wrestle in human nature. It’s part of the fallenness of creation. We love to earn. We love to get. We love to win. Count our progress. Create our own criteria for whether we are winning and build our identity on that.
Paul reminds us that requirements for the first covenant with Abraham is that we enter into relationship with God by faith. What we bring to the party is an acknowledgement of his power and love – we believe it and he does the rest.
In Lockdown life there’s a huge temptation to think: I must do more for God. I’m not doing enough for Him. I need to reach more people. Raise my kids in the faith better. Pray better prayers. If you catch yourself thinking that then stop. Today – whether you’re Zooming or sweating in your PPE – or stacking shelves – you are forgiven. You are loved. You are free.
And if homeschool tanks today… don’t worry. You’re not on your own!
Father, help us all to walk more and more in your grace. Amen.
BIBLE READING: Galatians 3: 15-22
Brothers and sisters, let me take an example from everyday life. Just as no one can set aside or add to a human covenant that has been duly established, so it is in this case. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds’, meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed’, meaning one person, who is Christ. What I mean is this: the law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise. For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on the promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.
Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given through angels and entrusted to a mediator. A mediator, however, implies more than one party; but God is one.
Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.