What has happened to all your joy?” Galatians 3:15
Joy is a good measure of our Christianity because true joy is only found in the presence of God. (Psalm 16:11) Apparently the early joy the Galatian church experienced had faded. In the text above, Paul is bringing this fact to their attention so he can get to the source of the problem.
They were still living; they were still religious; and maybe even still zealous for the faith, but the joy was gone. What happened? Have you ever been there? Still doing what you’re supposed to be doing, but over time, losing the heartfelt energy that comes from the joy of the Lord?
Paul identifies the freedom the gospel brings as the source of releasing God’s joy, and the loss of that freedom as the block to it. Jesus came to free them from the slavery of a performance identity, so they could know what it is to be the beloved children of God. (Galatians 4:6-7)
They knew this joy once but are now being seduced by teachers who are preaching a different gospel. The gospel these teachers are promoting makes more sense because it involves them keeping more rules and “earning their keep” instead of the free gift of grace through faith alone. Paul exposes the deception and calls them to return to the true gospel and to stand firm in it. The central verse of Galatians is chapter five, verse one: “It was for freedom that Christ set you free. Stand firm therefore in your freedom and do not be enslaved again by a yoke of bondage.”
Do you know you’re a beloved child of God with the full rights of an heir of God? (Galatians 4:6) If you understand the gospel correctly it should make you laugh. Paul says that we, like Isaac (whose name means laughter), were born of a promise. (Galatians 4:28) Sinners deserving death were saved, not by any work of their own, but just by believing God’s love and promise to us in Christ!
May God restore to each of us the joy of our salvation and may that joy overflow to all those who are around us every day.