I recently read an article about how some modern Jewish people honor the Sabbath. This particular article was focused on how people can “work around” some of those laws. For example, there is a Shabbat rule that does not allow the turning on or off of anything that uses electricity.
A refrigerator can remain plugged in, as long as it is not turned on during the hours of Shabbat (they use a lot of timers). And they suggest that you should make sure the fridge light is disconnected before Shabbat by unscrewing the bulb slightly.
There are rules about moving objects on the Sabbath. So, the “work around” is to use your teeth to carry something, not your fingers. That same rule says that you cannot carry something outside (like to your car). And the “work around” is to build a temporary shelter from your house door to the car. As long as you walk under the “shelter” (a temporary canopy perhaps), it is okay to transport something outside.
As I read those rules and the clever ways people get around the “spiritual” restrictions, I could not help but think about the book of Galatians. The Pharisees in Paul’s day were doing essentially the same kind of thing. Their “spiritual” performances were duplicitous. They wanted to look good for the rest of the church.
But legalism in any era, is for show. It is a way of living that is fake. Paul wanted the Galatians to live real lives, lives that honestly reflected their victories and defeats. When they were honest with each other, they could make spiritual progress. They could grow in Christ. Otherwise, they were just “treading water,” going nowhere!
And it is the same problem for us today. Too often we are projecting a false veneer of spirituality. It is not real. Those folks who push such hypocrisy are hiding behind poorly fit masks and impressing no one!
Paul was urging the Galatians and us to ignore the urge to impress people by means of the flesh. Instead, let’s just let reality rule. Let’s share our struggles and our victories; ask for help or prayer; be honest about our situations and rejoice together when we overcome a challenge.
That’s the body of believers we all want to be a part of!
And oh by the way, don’t miss the grand crescendo in Gal. 6:14: “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!”