“Letting Go Of The Ugly”
Start With Prayer:
Dear God, please help me to hear you, and understand your message for me.
The young church in Galatia fell under the influence of Greek and Roman cultures, as well as, legalistic forms of Judaism, which taught strict rules that “must” be obeyed. So Paul writes a letter to encourage these believers and set the record straight.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.“
What’s the point?:
Here’s That Yoke Again!:
Last week we talked about what a yoke was. (As a refresher,) it was an instrument used by farmers to attach an unexperienced animal, to a larger, mature animal. This heavy yoke was laid across them, connecting them, so that the younger animal would learn what to do … with the older animal still bearing the brunt of the weight.
Right, Right! … But, What’s That Got To Do With Us?:
So, Paul was writing to address these young believers in Galatia who were honestly, really confused and conflicted. They were being told to do things the way the Romans did, while at the same time, also being told to do things another way because of what the strict Jewish leaders were saying. Oh, and it all conflicted with the truth that Jesus had taught. As you can imagine, they were super confused, and torn in a million directions by these impossible standards.
Sounds Familiar Right?!?:
Paul’s words don’t only ring true for those living in Galatia, but also to us living in our society today. We, too, are living under the pressure to conform to society, and follow all of these “man-made” rules.
So … the good news of today’s verse is, “Friend, you are set free! Stand firm and don’t let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery!”
Wait, What Is MY Yoke Of Slavery?:
Keep reading sister …
What does all of this mean to me/how can I apply that to my life today?
Last week, we addressed the crazy expectations we place on ourselves to be all things to all people. I hope and pray that it set you free in BIG ways, and that you have learned to be comfortable in your own skin, using your gifts and then letting the rest of the guilt GO!
Today’s “yoke of slavery,” isn’t so … comfortable … to examine.
The heavy yoke of slavery, holding you back, that we’re talking about today is … sin.
I know, I know, I hate the word too, but essentially our sins are those things in our lives that are holding us back. They are those things you don’t exactly like to reflect on.
When I read all of Chapter 5 of Galatians a few months ago, God really convicted my heart that I needed to free myself from the bondages of anger, my desire to fit in, my pride, my selfishness, and my sense of entitlement.
Ouch! Talk about a hard look in the mirror.
Now, please keep reading … I promise not to make you feel too horrible.
Because, the thing is, Jesus doesn’t offer lectures, He offers invitations to something better.
One of my favorite stories in the Bible is Jesus calling His disciple Matthew. Matthew was a tax collector (literally the most loathed position because he was stealing from the poor to make himself and the roman government rich.) Anyways … Jesus walks up to Matthew and he doesn’t say “Matthew, now what you’ve done is wrong, we need to sit and have a long chat young man.” Nope, He simply says, ‘Hey Matthew, wanna follow me?”
Jesus may tug at your heart a little … “Girl, wanna follow me and leave behind the gossiping, or lashing out, or the manipulation?”
He does this because He wants you to leave behind those “ugly,” traits, and not because you have to be perfect to be considered a Christian, but because He knows your life is much easier and brighter without those things. (Not to mention you help other people’s lives get better when you lose bad habits too.)
He lovingly calls you to free yourself from those bad habits and behaviors, to let go of those things that are getting in the way of you being the person He created you to be, and instead live the joy-filled life He designed you to live.
So, dare I ask … what is it that’s holding you back?
Do you tend to consider yourself before others?
Are you a good friend both to people’s faces and behind their backs?
Do you manipulate situations to get your way?
Does anger come out in not so flattering ways?
When I did this little exercise, let me tell you, it wasn’t exactly comfortable. But I prayed and asked God to really show me what it was that was holding me back.
And you want to know the biggest thing … I was a grudge-holder.
I was hurt and indignant about things people did to me YEARS ago, and the thing is, they had no clue what they had done. Mainly I was hurt by friends who weren’t there for me when I needed them.
The thing Jesus revealed to me though, was, y’all, those poor friends had no idea I needed anything! Had I gotten outside of my pride and shot them a text, “Hey, I could really use you right now,” they would have been there in a heartbeat … but I allowed what I perceived to be their “lack of care and concern,” to hurt me and hold me back and make me angry for years!
It literally was affecting my life … no one else’s … and for absolutely no reason.
And here’s the best part of this whole thing!!
When I prayed and asked God to reveal to me what I needed to let go, accepted His answer, and then vulnerably admitted, “Yep, you’re right … I DO need to let that go. I’m so sorry Lord.” … It was like the weights had been lifted from my shoulders. I ended up reconnecting with an old friend (again, a person who had no clue they had even hurt me) and I felt JOY, I mean real, true genuine peace and JOY!
So I encourage you to take some time today, or soon, to really ask God to reveal those, “not so pretty traits,” and then let them go.