Open Your Bible
Galatians 6:11-18, Jeremiah 9:23-24, Matthew 23:1-36, 2 Corinthians 5:17-21
At summer camp, I won an award for having curly hair. The curliest, naturally curly hair. I felt pretty proud of myself that night. The next morning at breakfast I assumed everyone was whispering, “Is that the curly hair queen?” Yes, yes, it is I!
And goodness, isn’t this about the level of all the things we boast about? Things we truly have no control over? We can certainly work hard and make good choices. But our eye color and our physical achievements, our successes and our relationships—aren’t all these things really just gifts from God?
Instead of boasting in what amounts to little more than circumstances from our birth, we are called to boast in the Lord (Galatians 6:14). And “the one who boasts should boast in this: that he understands and knows me—that I am the LORD, showing faithful love, justice, and righteousness on the earth, for I delight in these things. This is the LORD’s declaration” (Jeremiah 9:24).
The Hebrew word for God’s “enduring, covenantal love” is hesed. In his book Inexpressible, Michael Card defines hesed beautifully as, “When the person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything.” Our boasting then, is to be in the undeserved and overwhelming love of Christ, who—while we were His enemies, helpless in our sin—gave His life for us, so that we could be children of God (Romans 5:6–11).
Paul’s benediction appeals to this same hesed, as he speaks to the Galatian church that had foolishly followed after the false teachings of the Judaizers, and wandered from the life of the Spirit. As he had earlier called on them to deal gently with those who are overtaken by sin, so also Paul deals gently with the Galatians. Why? Because Christ has dealt gently with Paul. And so Paul can boast in one thing only: the hesed of God, seen most clearly in the cross of Christ. He exhorts the Galatians to do the same.
The apostle then blesses the Galatians with a benediction that can only result from the steadfast love of God. Because of God’s undeserved and faithful love, we have fellowship with one another. We have restoration when we are overtaken in sin, and reconciliation with those we have offended, including Christ our Lord. Because of His love for us, we are part of the family of God, brothers and sisters, and co-heirs with Christ to the inheritance of God’s eternal kingdom.
Paul goes on to bless the Galatians with the grace of Christ, for it is His grace alone which saves, restores, sustains, secures, and transforms us into His own likeness. This He does by the work of His Spirit in our spirits, in our hearts, and in our minds. In Him, we are a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The final note of Paul’s epistle to the Galatians is a resounding praise of Christ, in whom alone we boast. Next time you get ready to toot your own horn over your own achievements, remember that there’s no need to rejoice over ourselves, because our Creator already rejoices over us with singing (Zephaniah 3:17). Let His rejoicing over us be enough, and may we instead glory in Christ alone.