I plead with you, brothers, become like me, for I became like you. You have done me no wrong. As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you. Even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. What has happened to all your joy? I can testify that, if you could have done so, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?
Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them. It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you. My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you, how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you! (NIV)
1. When Paul says to the Galatians, "become like me, for I became like you," what does he mean? Consider Paul's background and the Galatians' way of life. What did Paul have to give up and why? How did he change? What is he asking the Galatians to do?
2. Paul is reminiscing about his first contact with the Galatians. His love for them is evident as he remembers how they nursed him and honored him when he came to them sick. (Some people think this verse suggests that his eyes had been permanently damaged by the Damascus Road experience and gave him trouble. Some suggest that he may have suffered debilitating headaches, and others think he may have had malaria or epilepsy.) What change in them does he especially notice? What does the loss of that particular fruit of the Spirit suggest about the Galatians at this time?
3. What does this text suggest about the characteristics that accompany joy? What can you deduce from this passage about the relationship between truth and joy?
4. Paul says, "What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them." In Matthew 10:34-36 Jesus says that he "did not come to bring peace, but a sword." He further stated that he came "to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mothera man's enemies will be the members of his own household." How does the alienation Jesus predicted for his followers compare or contrast with the alienation Paul is observing the Judaizers creating in the Galatians? How does alienation resulting from truth differ from alienation resulting from being deceived?
5. Paul compares his distress over the Galatians to the pains of childbirth. If Paul knew you, would he be in distress over some aspect of your life? What?
6. Are there ways in which your joy has been compromised or snuffed out? Have the circumstances or people in your life pressured you adapt to beliefs or practices that compromise your joy? How? How does compromising truth figure into the pressure you may be accepting?
7. What area(s) of your life do you need to submit to Jesus, asking him to clear out the deception and restoring the joy of his Spirit?
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