Chapter # 4 Paragraph # 3 Study # 6
Thesis: Properly motivated "love" is always a good thing, even when it is viewed from the perspective of the one "being" loved.
Introduction: In our last study we focused our attention upon the false teachers and their false motive for pursuing the Galatians. In that study I argued that "pursuit" is simply the mechanism of a fundamental attribute of both God and men: love. Therefore, we are actually talking about "love in action" in our text and its context. But, Paul nailed the false teachers in their pursuit when he exposed them as motivated by the desire to insert themselves between the Galatians and God so that the Galatians would have no recourse in respect to their relationship to God but to seek out ("pursue"/"love") the false teachers as the effective agents of their salvation. This is, of course, a perverse kind of love.
This evening we are going to look into Paul's admission that being the object of "pursuit" is not only not always a "bad" thing, it is always a "good" thing when it is actually legitimate at its core. His words are, "It is always a good thing to be zealously pursued in a good way...".
October 7, 2012
- I. The Translation Issues.
- A. The Authorized Version says, "... it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing ...".
- B. The original ASV says, "... it is good to be zealously sought in a good matter at all times ...".
- C. The NASB corrects both of these with a better translation: "... it is good always to be eagerly sought in a commendable manner ...".
- 1. At issue in Paul's text is the fact that he has accused the false teachers of a false, and hypocritical, "pursuit" of the Galatians.
- 2. By addressing their motivation, Paul deliberately inserted the entire issue of "love" because that is the driver of all "motivations" at all times and in every occasion.
- 3. Thus, if there is a "good" in anything, it is so by reason of it being driven by a legitimate "love".
- 4. Thus, "... in a commendable manner ..." means "when godly love is at the root of the pursuit".
- II. The Issue of the Text.
- A. The bottom line in Paul's attack against the false teachers is that the goal that drives their pursuit (hypocritically cloaked in "words of love") is self-focused.
- B. This raises a most crucial concern: if "love" is invariably involved in all decisions, and "selfishness" is always an "evil", how do we understand God's love for us?
- 1. Was God not seeking "His own objectives" in all of the expressions of His "love" for us?
- 2. How is it "right" for God to be driven by His own objectives, but not "right" for the false teachers to be driven by theirs?
- C. Paul's answer.
- 1. It is always a "good pursuit" when that pursuit is driven by a "good motive".
- a. This means that we have to look into "final" issues when we are caught up in a discussion of intermediate methods.
- b. The biblical declaration of God's "final" issue in respect to His love for men is their actual, and eternal, benefit.
- 1) This is inherent in the summary of the biblical message: His promise to us is Eternal Life (with all that implies).
- 2) This is inherent in the climax of the biblical statement of the divine methodology: He gave His Son up to Eternal Death so that we, even when we were enemies, could be set up to participate in Eternal Life.
- 3) Thus, "objective" and "method" are clearly exposed by the totality of divine revelation.
- c. The biblical mandate for all of men's actions involves being motivated by the same kind of love as God's: selfless, sacrificial pursuit with Life in mind.
- 2. It is a "good" to be selflessly pursued even when "we are not present".
- a. On the one hand, the letter itself is indicative of the proper motives even "in absentia".
- b. On the other hand, the problem the letter addresses is the reality of the difficulty that men have in being properly motivated.
- 1) The declaration is that those currently "present" are improperly motivated.
- 2) The suggestion is that most men never "get there" -- i.e., the love of God is a rare thing in the hearts of men.
- c. Paul's point, however, focuses upon the Galatians' desire to be pursued.
- 1) This is the "point of danger": to want to be zealously pursued.
- 2) The reasons it is so dangerous.
- a) It is a "T"heological heresy because the desire denies the reality of God's already involved "Love": it denies the essence of God.
- b) It drives a "theological" heresy in respect to the reality of man's essential identity: men are driven to see themselves as both necessarily involved in "pursuing in order to be pursued" and seeing themselves as "capable" of such pursuit.
- III. The Reality: God Already "Loves" and He Does Not Relate On a Performance Basis.
- A. Men do not have to "do" anything to be loved by God.
- B. Relationships all hinge more fundamentally upon "trust" than they do upon "behavior".