There’s an old saying that President Reagan used at a meeting of Conservative Activists. Speaking to the Conservative Political Action Committee, he talked about working with them as an opportunity to “dance with the one that brung ya.” President Reagan, whether you agreed with him or not, stayed true to his principles. He didn’t change from conservative principles to liberal principles based on the whims of the polls. He realized who it was and what it was that gave him his political power and he didn’t change. Many politicians today seem prone to changing their “core” beliefs once they get elected. If the polls say that the politician should support a cause, they’ll support it as long as the polls continue to support that cause. If the polls suggest that the cause they once supported has fallen out of favor, they’ll shift to support the new cause.
There is something to be applauded about consistency in behavior and thought. While we must always make allowances for new information that may help someone change their mind, instead of new poll results, we should cheer those people who are consistent in their words, beliefs, and actions in life – whether we agree with them or not. As Paul deals with the Galatians, he’s incredulous that the Galatians seem to have forgotten how it was that they came to know Christ, and are trying to find ways to become better Christians in ways that are completely opposite to how they came to know Christ as Savior. “Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3)
As you read through the whole book of Galatians, Paul is not only incredulous, he’s downright indignant about what’s happening among the Galatians. Paul is looking at those who came to know Jesus by His grace, because of their faith, suddenly turning around and saying, “That’s not good enough to grow.” These people who had been saved from the pit of their sinful lives and were now walking in the glorious grace of Christ were acting as if God couldn’t bring growth and make stronger Christians through faith alone, but that they had to engage in good works. Based on the whole book, it seems clear that the method the Galatians turned to so that they could ensure spiritual growth was the old list of rules and regulations that came from the Pharisees. With that understanding, it’s easy to see why Paul was livid.
There are a lot of good things that we can do as followers of Christ. In some cases those things may help us grow closer to God, but we can never make a list of rules and regulations that will lead to spiritual growth. Repentance flows from God to the believer. The Holy Spirit flows to the believer. Spiritual growth flows from God to the believer. Are we sensing a pattern here? We give back to God our thanksgiving and our offerings knowing that in each case, the source for thanksgiving and the source for the offerings is God Himself. When we do those things that most people equate with causing spiritual growth – things like Bible reading, praying, church attendance, etc., we are really demonstrating the growth that has already happened because of God’s Spirit working in us. No matter how hard we try, we can’t force spiritual growth, we can’t “finish by means of the flesh.” What we can do is focus on God and let Him take control of our lives. As we listen for His voice and speak to Him, He’ll lead us into the growth we need to be the people He called us to be. When it comes to spiritual growth, you really do gotta dance with the one that brung ya.
Lord, remind me that I can’t control my spiritual growth and that all of my Christian walk depends on You working in my life.