Chapter 2, here we come! Thank you so much for joining me on this journey…
1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. (2:1-5)
So, when I memorized this passage on Sunday, I thought for sure I KNEW what I was going to share with you…but I hadn’t yet had the chance to get on here. Then, today when I was doing my memory work, I believe the Lord changed my plan! 🙂 Although I am going to focus on something different for the whole of this post, I would like to draw your attention to the very last phrase of the text: “so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.” Can you just pause and thank God for sending Paul out to the Gentiles? Can you thank Him for empowering every faithful believer who labored and even died in order that we might have the text of Scripture in our hands (and stacking our bookshelves!)? Can you thank Him for saving and leading Martin Luther, John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, C.S. Lewis? Our spiritual legacy is traced back to these faithful saints and of course INNUMERABLE more! Can you thank Him specifically for the person who shared his/her faith in Jesus with you? We are blessed indeed by those who “preserved the truth of the gospel” for US!
As I mentioned already, I was struck by something in the text earlier today during my memory work. As I am memorizing a new book, I am still continuing to recite the previous books I have memorized. So as I go through Galatians for the next several months, every day, I start with Galatians 1:1 through whatever the week’s newest passage is. Then, I recite James since that was the book I last memorized. Then, I recite Philippians, then Colossians. Retention is crucial to me. I say all that because it was actually during Philippians that the Holy Spirit turned a light on for me. 🙂
Philippians 2:14-16 says:
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
See something similar?
The Apostle Paul says in Gal. 2:2 that he goes up to Jerusalem to present the gospel that he preaches among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that he hasn’t been running in vain. In the same regard, Paul is concerned that if the Philippian believers do not remain true to Christ, that ultimately he will have run in vain. The repetition between the books pricked my heart. (I love how God’s Word is absolutely alive!)
The Greek word for “vain” is kenos meaning “empty, void, devoid of truth; endeavors, labors, and acts which result in nothing; fruitless; without effect.” Paul is clearly concerned that whatever he does would be from God and would produce fruit to glorify Him. Philippians 2:16 and Galatians 2:2 are certainly not the only occurrences of Paul using this Greek word to communicate the same idea. He says something similar to both the church at Corinth and at Thessalonica.
One last observance: the idea of running is consistent between both texts too. The Greek word for “run/running” is trekho. It means “to run; to spend one’s strength in performing or attaining something; to strive hard; denotes to incur extreme peril which then requires the exertion of all one’s effort to overcome.” Paul had much to overcome in preaching the gospel to the Gentiles. He had to work hard. He had to leave family and friends. He had striven to remain firm and true to grace over law for salvation. He had to confront. He had given up his whole previous life. He had dedicated his life to Christ and to those outside of Judaism. Fourteen years. He wanted to make sure that it wasn’t for nothing.
We can shout unanimously, “IT WAS NOT IN VAIN, PAUL! We, as believers in 2012, are a testimony to your faithfulness! Thank you!”
As for me….
Am I running in vain? Am I running at all–striving hard, spending my all, incurring extreme peril in order to fulfill God’s purpose for my life? Am I spending all my strength to attain something that is temporary, rather than eternal? What am I doing with the years, months, weeks, days, minutes, even seconds that God has given me? Is what I focus on and accomplish daily, empty, fruitless, without effect?
Lord Jesus, remind us of our purpose and then accomplish it through us. Holy Spirit, allow us to be faithful and diligent stewards of time, resources, energy, and LIFE. Thank you, Lord that YOU did not run in vain, but You labored to the cross, spent Your all, endured extreme peril to overcome…and You finished the race.
Because He did, we can too.