From Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia we read,
- “They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out, in order that you many seek them. But it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner, and not only when I am present with you. My children with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you . . .” (Galatians 4:17-19 – NASB)
The “they” are the Judaizers. These false teachers were at their work, desiring to “shut . . . out” the believers from the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ alone and influence them with their false teaching, to instead “seek them,” the men of the law, men who believed that by keeping the law they were therefore justified before God.
Paul makes it clear that their way is “not commendable,” that it is, in laymen’s terms, the wrong way for a disciple of Christ to go. In contrast he says, “it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner.” And that “commendable manner” is in the truth, the truth that is in Jesus the Christ, the truth Paul personally had given to them when he was in their midst.
In his outreach to his fellow believers, the apostle calls them his “children.” And he tells his “children” that in contrast to the Judaizers laboring to conform them to their beliefs he “labors” toward his “children . . . until Christ is formed” in them.
Quite simply brethren, if you are a professing believer, there will always be those who labor to deceive you and turn you away from the truth of the gospel of Christ. They would want their form of teaching to be received by you and thus have you conformed to their belief system, to literally be conformed to their image.
The will of God? That you, having believed the gospel message, be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). And the “labor” of the church is an ongoing one that should always have the intent of “Christ” being “formed in you.”
“Christ being formed in you,” a most “commendable” goal, the right goal to have in mind. Such a goal exhorts each one of us to be at work, laboring to know the Word of God, allowing it to transform our minds (Romans 12:1-2) and bring us to Christlikeness. Then we are enabled to “labor” in helping others (discipleship) to have “Christ . . formed” in them.
As the old hymn says so should be our goal,
- “O to be like Thee! blessed Redeemer, this is my constant longing and prayer;
- Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures, Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.”
The refrain of this great old hymn should be our desire, our goal,
- “O to be like Thee! O to be like Thee, blessed Redeemer, pure as Thou art!
- Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness — Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart”
It is my desire that I be like Christ. It is my desire that His “image” be “stamped . . . deep on my heart.” It is my desire that in being like Him I might “labor” the “commendable . . . labor” that “Christ is formed” in others who have received Him, that “Christ is formed” in those who are my brethren in Him. How about you?
Have a good day . . . and do not be ignorant but understanding what the will of the Lord is (Ephesians 5:17) and labor to see it fulfilled. You just need to have the right goal in mind.
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