Galatians 5:5 NIV
For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope.
Baking shows are a big hit these days. We love to see the creativity that kicks in when beautiful cakes, breads, and sandwiches are made that reveal the craft of baking has been mastered. In baking, you can’t fake the “bake.” If the cake or bread was baked for the wrong amount of time, too short or too long, it just doesn’t turn out right. You can’t hurry the process, or extend it. The ingredients must be right—but the timing must also be just right.
It’s been said that doing things right can provide a false sense that we are doing right things. Legalism can give us a sigh of relief when applied. But when the Holy Spirit comes, things don’t always move quickly, nor do they always provide the immediate gratification we desire. If God is not acting, or is not acting in the way we desire, we can find and follow a rule, stoke the fires of religious service, and feel quite satisfied that we are doing something technically right—even without actually experiencing the presence of God. We are getting the bread without the flavor, texture, and end results that would serve everyone best.
And that’s how religion can end up going wrong. Worship, spiritual activities, and disciplines can become ends in themselves, quick fixes that displace our need to wait on God when the good things he is always doing in the background are taking a smidge too long. King Saul did it when he had to wait for days for the prophet Samuel to arrive. When his army began to scatter, he did the thing that was technically “doing things right”—he offered a sacrifice. But it wasn’t the right thing to do. The right thing to do was to wait for Samuel to offer the sacrifice (1 Sam. 13:5-13).
In Galatians 5, Paul is having an issue with the rigid religious streak that is running through a few of the followers of Jesus. They are in a hurry to get outward conformity by the group to Jewish religious practice. They will breathe a sigh of relief if they do.
In v. 1, Paul tells them that freedom is the reason Christ came, not to lead us into deeper bondage to rules that provide quick gratification and keep everything under the rule of our spiritual timing. He also says, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (1 Cor. 3:17). Quick fixes put us in greater bondage to rules that hold no power. The Spirit will not have it.
They were trying to find salvation by following rules, and demanding that others follow the same rules to keep the whole system in glorious check.
The Body of Christ in every generation has suffered with impatience. We are in a spiritual hurry, and hurry has many manifestations. But we are not in a hurry; the hurry is in us. For all the seemingly right reasons, we pursue wrong goals—like filling seats and feeling good about our social media share counts without doing the deep work of one-on-one discipleship. The hurry is within us—and the Spirit will resist it by not letting our hurry, ultimately, prosper.
The false hope that doing religion can provide deceives us into thinking we’re moving God’s agenda along, when the agenda we have been moving along is actually our own. Paul comes to v. 7 saying: “You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?” We must stay true to intimacy with God that is marked by the spiritual fruit of trust and patience. Without patience, we will be tripped up on the race and disqualified on our way to Christ. The Spirit will help us wait, with anticipation, for the final results that will come in God’s perfect timing.
Jesus, I receive the Holy Spirit. The hurry in me must come to an end, lest I lean on my religious practices without actually investing myself in growing in spiritual intimacy with you. Come, Holy Spirit, I welcome you to slow my heart down, empowering me to wait on you to bring your best results—in your time. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Can you identify with the idea that you are not in a hurry—the hurry is in you? What could you do to learn patience from the Holy Spirit?
For the awakening,