Sermon – March 11, 2018

Galatians Cover

How to Save a Life – Galatians 4:12-20 (mp3)

We love reason, and appeals to cold logic seem to be the order of the day. We are continually told of reason’s importance: from the need for math and the scientific method as modes of knowledge, to our love of court-room dramas, logic and reason are seen to be the arbiters of truth in our culture. But humans are not computers; we are not beings who act and respond to logic alone. God often appeals to us through our emotions. Therefore, Paul does the same. What can we learn from Paul’s appeals in Galatians 4:12-20?

1. We appeal to real emotions
We must be careful in our use of emotions. Using emotive language can often become manipulative, overwhelming others to actions they don’t want to undertake. Paul clearly does not take this route – he is not manipulating the Galatians but appealing to real emotions that they have felt in the past.

2. We appeal to emotions with right motives
What’s more, he tries to demonstrate that he has right motives in his appeal. The Agitators only care about the Galatians so far as the Galatians make much of them. Paul’s concern is not for himself, but for the Galatians; indeed, his concern is shown even in this difficult letter when he is not present. Let us take up the same tack – not manufacturing emotions in others but relying on real emotions in our love for others.

3. We appeal to emotions reasonably
As Paul appeals to the Galatians, he does not forgo any kind of reason or logic; far from it, logic forms the basis of why the Galatians should listen to him, but it is an emotional logic. We are not using fire alone, but logic on fire.

4. We appeal to emotions sympathetically
Paul also is quite able to commiserate with the Galatians; he knows what they have been through, for he himself has walked in their shoes.  Let us do the same, as we can. Your sufferings can become a comfort to others.

5. We appeal to emotions sincerely
Lastly, Paul is open and honest with the Galatians. His emotions are real, not insincere or simply acted out. The Galatians should know this; Paul has been with them, laboring among them that they might know the Lord.

Our faith is sometimes only defended through the use of reason and logic. Such arguments are necessary and good, but they are hardly sufficient. We are not machines, but emotive beings made in the image of God. Let us appeal to people’s emotions – but let us do so rightly. Let us appeal to the emotions of people logically, empathetically, and honestly. In doing so, we make the gospel appealing to the whole of a person, mind and soul.