After over 30 years in the ministry, it becomes easy to spot them. Not so much because of any special skill, insight, or spiritual gift: it’s mostly because they stick out like a sore thumb. They don’t think anyone has them figured out, but we do.
They’re the ones who want everyone to think that they have life all “figured out” and that it is their job to help those who haven’t yet, or might never, “figure it out”. They really don’t have it all “figured out” but they are usually good at the charade or they talk fast enough that most folks are so busy trying to understand them that they don’t recognize the charade.
They like us to think that they are the righteous among us: Those whom God has given special insight into how it’s done. They usually have a big list of “Thou-Shalts” and “Thou-Shalt-nots” that make life even more difficult and complex than it was before their list. But because of their “success”, we are supposed to do as they say. Aren’t usually asked to do as they do though . . .
As the Apostle Paul was finishing up his letter to the early Christians in first century Galatia, he let us know that the last things in the letter were especially important. So important that, instead of having his assistant write down what he said in crisp legible calligraphy, he wrote it in his own hand:
Now, in these last sentences, I want to emphasize in the bold scrawls of my personal handwriting the immense importance of what I have written to you. These people who are attempting to force the ways of circumcision on you have only one motive: They want an easy way to look good before others, lacking the courage to live by a faith that shares Christ’s suffering and death. All their talk about the law is gas. They themselves don’t keep the law! And they are highly selective in the laws they do observe. They only want you to be circumcised so they can boast of their success in recruiting you to their side. That is contemptible! Galatians 6:11-13 The Message
See, Paul was savvy enough to spot these folks and knew them for what they were, and are: Gas Bags! Their goal is not to help others but to look good to others. They are too gutless to depend on Jesus for their inspiration and direction; they prefer rules and lists of “Thou-Shalts” and “Thou-Shalt-nots” because they can deflect their gutlessness by pointing out how others fail to measure up to the lists. Then, if they can get you to do what they say, they can put another notch in their Bible that they never really read. Gas Bags, every one of them!
Don’t get sucked in by the Gas Bags: Live by faith! Read your Bible so you’ll know this Jesus, strengthen your faith, and then have the courage to live by it.
Not by some Gas Bag’s rules.
Pressing on toward the goal . . .