Goals and Grace
4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.6 And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, “Abba, Father!” 7 Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ. (Galatians 4:4-7)
Setting goals is a great way to improve the quality of our lives. Goals can infuse our lives with purpose and help us realize our greatest potential. Aspiring for self-improvement not only is a benefit to us but can enrich the lives of those around us. However, I think it is important to reflect upon what motivates us towards our goals.
When Paul wrote to the Galatians, he was deeply concerned over those who have come to know God returning to the “weak and beggarly elements” of living and relating in the world that leads to bondage (Gal.4:3,9). Paul was troubled that the people of God were living according to the ABC’s of the universe (Cole). In other words, if I do A+B I will get C.
Cause and effect are important and necessary to follow in life. Yet, when it comes to how we relate to ourselves, others and to God this way of thinking leads us away from the freedom Christ purchased on our behalf. For example, if I live under the principle of self-improvement to be approved, I am heading towards bondage. Have you ever felt that way in your life? If I can just improve my physical appearance or nail that presentation, then I will be accepted. If I fail than I am a failure, and everyone knows it.
God invites us to a better way, the way of grace. Paul says in the fullness of time God sent His Son to deliver us from the law of causality to relating through grace. We are invited to be sons (and daughters) of the Heavenly Father where we no longer have to strive for acceptance. We are accepted, we are loved. Through God’s grace I am approved so now I can work towards self-improvement not the other way around.
As sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father we can affectionately call out to Him. The Spirit revitalizes the child within us that simply wants to be loved and accepted. As the perfect Father He shows us this love and appreciates the needs of His children to not have to perform to belong. Perhaps God is inviting us to not only accept His grace in general but to that childlike part that cries out in our vulnerability. And maybe He is also calling for us to be kind to that part of ourselves. Maybe then we can press on towards our goals with the freedom that God intends.