Galatians 1:24: “And they praised God because of me” (NIV).
Observation: In this opening chapter of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he said he was “astonished” (Gal. 1: 6) that people he had only recently had a hand in bringing to Christ are so readily abandoning the pure Gospel in favor of easier teachings. He reminded them of the purity of his calling and said that the revelation he shared with them was not something contrived on his own, but given directly by the Lord Jesus Christ. He said that upon conversion he had not sought man’s wisdom by going to seminary in Jerusalem; he had merely started preaching what he knew to be the truth. As proof of his credibility, he says that even to places where he was personally unknown, the testimony of his conversion preceded him: “’The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.’ And they praised God because of me” (v. 24).
Application: The most powerful thing Paul had going for him was simply the evidence of a changed life. I once was blind but now I see. I was lost, but now am found. I formerly lived in darkness but now have seen a great light. The Gospel’s simplicity is its ability to, in a single moment, change literally everything.
Paul’s authority flowed from the changes God had wrought in his own heart. In his testimony we hear not a word about such power gifts as healings, tongues, prophetic words, or resurrections from the dead. These things and more did indeed attend Paul, but he never represented them as being the source of his power or authority.
This causes me to wonder. Do I become discontent with the Gospel alone and long to add other dimensions to it? When I suffer lack of a prayed-for result, is my faith shaken, or does it rest on bedrock belief in Jesus that is utterly immovable? When confronted by a mountain of need, am I caught in a subtle shift away from reliance only on His permanent work on the Cross, hoping that He will do just this one more thing I now petition Him for? (“Lord, You have healed so many; why not my wife, just this once?”) He loves that I bring Him my requests; He loves my trust in His limitless abilities. But at the end of the day, He owes me no further performances. He said, “It is finished”; there need be no curtain calls after Calvary. To the extent that I require something more from Him, I must re-examine faith’s foundations and urgently make all necessary correction.
Prayer: Lord, I confess I grow excited as I see evidences of Your hand in my life. I thrill to see the miraculous. But I am reminded, Lord, that Your work is only ultimately focused upon changing my heart. You have made me Yours irrevocably. That is enough. Thank You, Lord.