“You were running well. Who hindered you from obeying the truth?” (Gal. 5:7)
Paul was very familiar with the athletic races that were popular at the time. Perhaps he was even a fan or maybe he ran in the races as a young man, whichever he liked to use them as a teaching tool. The Galatians had begun their race in exactly the correct way and keeping to their good start were running the race well. Then something happened. Their running was interfered with. Our translation says they were hindered and the original language says they were “cut in on”. This cutting in on was an illusion to an obstacle in the race.
Paul is not naming names himself but is wanting the Galatians to do that. He will refrain from saying names but he knows that the Galatians can identify the cutting-in faction. Who is keeping you from obeying the truth? Someone is putting obstacles in your path and you are stumbling as you run Paul is saying. Who are they? While he doesn’t identify the hinderers by name he does identify what they are doing.
“You were running well,” is past tense. The Galatians are no longer running a good race. Someone and something is getting in the way. Their rather smooth race track has now become an obstacle course and Paul wants them to be aware of it and who is causing it. “The truth” is in place of the gospel, the true gospel. The Greek construction of “obey” may indicate an obedience tied to being persuaded, a persuaded obedience.
Make no mistake about it, hinderers are still alive and well. The ruler of this world is not happy when we are running a good race. He hates to see us in a flat out run headed for the finish line and so he cuts in on our race. All manner of obstacles will be put before us. If our problem is hills he will provide mountains and if our problem is slippery slopes we will find our race path is made out of mud mixed with oil. We, like the Galatians, know his name. He does not want our race to go well and he will do all he can to derail us.
These obstacles may come in the form of ego boosters. By that I mean we may be tempted to “work” on our race and try to improve on God’s recommended technique. Their obstacle was the law and ours might be trying to keep a code of laws ourselves.
Task for Today: Avoid the obstacles. Run around them or jump over them but let nothing get in the way of your race for the crown of life. Trust the path Jesus has left. Follow the guidance of the Holy Spirit and do not listen to the voice of “he whose name we know.”