One of the things I enjoy about Paul is how he can bring the Old Testament to life in profound ways. When we read his writings we can learn more about the Old Testament and begin to look at it as important to our faith today.
Galatians 4:21-27 21 Tell me—those of you who want to be under the Law—don’t you listen to the Law? 22 It’s written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and one by the free woman. 23 The son by the slave woman was conceived the normal way, but the son by the free woman was conceived through a promise.24 These things are an allegory: the women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, which gives birth to slave children; this is Hagar. 25 Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and she corresponds to the present-day Jerusalem, because the city is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 It’s written:
Rejoice, barren woman, you who have not given birth.
Break out with a shout, you who have not suffered labor pains;
because the woman who has been deserted will have many more children
than the woman who has a husband.
I believe we can learn something from this passage today. The questions that come to mind is “How do we want to live?” and “How do we ask others to live?” I believe these are important for us to consider.
Paul is quoting Isaiah in this passage and also telling the story from Genesis about Sarah and Hagar and Abraham. I also think this is telling us that we have a couple of options when it comes to our faith: we can live legalistically (meaning we have to live with every rule and are not allowed to break any of them); or we can live as redeemed people from the rules and the Law because of Jesus Christ.
Life already has many rules, why would we want to try to add more rules to our life? I love how Jesus summed up the Law in two phrases. This is in Matthew 22:37-40
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being,[c] and with all your mind. 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: You must love your neighbor as you love yourself. 40 All the Law and the Prophets depend on these two commands.”
He is telling us how we can live as free people in our faith. When we truly love God, we can love people more. (We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19). Then when we love people, we show our love of God. It’s almost too simple, really. The rest is just thinking and other things we want to add to our lives.
So we do not need to create rules (though we should follow the rules and laws we have); and we should not impose hardships on people. Paul fights this throughout his letter. He is making sure the motives for living the life Christ desires us to live is not done to earn any favor. Paul desires that the people, including us today, realize we are free. We should live our lives as redeemed, forgiven, Holy Spirit led people who live our life in peace because we are not trying to earn anyone’s favor or grace, including God’s.