Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Monday Morning Leadership Devo

(Oringinally published on March 23, 2009)

Leadership and Legalism

I have been teaching through a series on Sunday mornings on the Book of Galatians. It is a small book, only six chapters in length. But this little letter that Paul wrote to a group of churches he had planted is packed full of hard-hitting truth. I have found that I simply do not have the time on Sunday mornings to cover all the material. So what I would like to do during our time on Monday mornings is offer some of this additional material to you via devotional thought.

The focus of the Book of Galatians is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This very simple message had been distorted in the Galatian churches, and Paul himself had come under attack for preaching an incomplete gospel. I say incomplete, because Paul preached Jesus and Jesus alone. Other people had come into the church and begun to preach that in order to be saved, you must believe in Jesus PLUS follow Jewish laws. Salvation is not by faith alone, they claimed, but by faith AND works. What Paul spoke vigorously against was this legalism: that you must follow a set of man-made rules in order verify your love for Jesus and to prove your salvation.

Legalism is alive and well even today. In fact, I have fallen victim to its terror and I am sure you have too. I will even admit that at a time early on in my faith, I myself became a persecutor of legalism. I am ashamed to this day that I fell into this trap and pushed it on others. But legalism is a powerful influencer. It can get the best of us. Just read this passage:

Passage for Reflection: Galatians 2:11-21

As you can see, even the great Peter, disciple of Christ, member of the inner circle of three (Peter, James and John) fell victim to legalism, and Paul had to call him out on it. Legalism is nothing more than submitting to man-made rules in order to please and be accepted by others who seem to be more spiritual than yourself. There is also a big-time fear factor involved in legalism. We know that if we don’t submit to the spiritual police, that they will single us out for ridicule. We will be labeled as back-slidden, liberal, unholy, unspiritual, take your pick. Like I said, you’ve probably endured the scorn of legalism yourself.

But just notice how Paul dealt with the whole legalism issue. He called it out. He didn’t back down. He didn’t submit. He didn’t cave. He didn’t remain silent. He went head-to-head with the legalist. And it cost him. He suffered their scorn and attacks. We see just previous to this passage how he had to go to Jerusalem and stand trial to vindicate his preaching. But Paul did it because he understood that when legalism wins, the Gospel of Jesus loses. And the Gospel can never lose. It is more important than our egos or reputations. The Gospel must always win.

Now that’s leadership!

“Lord, I pledge to defend the Gospel of Jesus at all cost. Even at the cost of my own reputation. Amen.”


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