Sometimes It’s Emotional
12Brothers, I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. 13You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. 16Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? 17They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. 18It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, 19my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! 20I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you.
Suddenly, Paul’s appeal to the Galatians takes an emotional turn. His role as mentor, spiritual parent, and pastor contains great love for the Church in Galatia and that love takes center stage for this passage. As Martin Luther says, “These words breathe Paul’s own tears” (AE 27:299). When the faith of someone we love stands in the balance, we become emotional.
With his heart on display, Paul calls up memories for the Galatians. They were so kind to him and were willing to go to great lengths for him when he was with them. Clearly, he had some type of physical aliment and they rushed to his rescue, showing him love and concern. He reminds them of that event which was important to him and to them. One might even say his words are extreme as he describes how great their care was for them. “… if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me …”
And so we see the love that Paul has for these people and the great fear he experiences for them as they tread on the path of apostacy. These are his brothers and sisters and watching them lose eternity for the sake of circumcision is more than he can bear. His love demands he respond to their mistakes, for they are faith-threatening. We all know what it feels like to love someone and have to watch them suffer for bad decisions. It’s terrible. And so Paul reacts with great passion toward this flock of believers in Galatia.
I think that sometimes we look down on people for an impassioned response toward others. Our fear for them can seem extreme. But some things are worth the risk; and a strong emotional response is always a risk. What if the Galatians had rejected Paul for his outburst? What if your friends / family reject you for your passionate desire to see them know and love Jesus? It’s a risk. When we love, we are on the edge of rejection much of the time. But sometimes, that passion is what gets someone’s attention, such as Paul is trying to do here. Love might be a risk, but it’s worth it.