Positive Reception

“and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus.”  (Gal. 4:14)

Paul has had some tough words for the Galatians but here we see him softening up his rhetoric as remembers how they welcomed him and received him at the very first. How scholars would like to know what Paul’s condition was. Most have ventured a guess and the majority have selected poor eyesight. The fact is we don’t know and can’t know because he didn’t say. If you were acquainted with Paul then you knew. Perhaps if you knew someone close to him you might know but he doesn’t see the necessity of communicating it in his writings.

That the condition was a trial to those he taught shows that his message was powerful since they did not let the sickness or physical difficulty keep them from listening and obeying. They could have scorned him but they did not. That makes it sound as if it were a terrible weakness or an unpleasant one. Perhaps the condition was so horrible that one would expect others to despise the ill one.

Instead, they treated Paul as if he were something special. So gracious were his words and manner that the Galatian Gentiles, as well as the Jews, received Paul as a messenger from God. This doesn’t imply that they thought of Paul as an angel, any more than they thought of him as Jesus himself. It just implies that that is how they responded to him and his message of hope. The relationship between Paul and the people of Galatia must have been a warm and friendly one. They treated Paul so special. It must have made Paul’s task in writing the letter even more difficult. His memories of his time there were so dear to him.

Task for Today: Don’t look on the outside. Don’t judge the messenger by his or her outward appearance. Sure we have the idea of what a minister or teacher should look like and sound like but that may not be the messenger God sends. Concentrate on the message and its value rather than the perfect speech of the messenger.

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