Thursday, September 20, 2007

Shut Them Out - They'll Make Much of You

“They want to shut you out that you may make much of them.” – Galatians 4:17

Paul captures a universal truth – men are always seeking to shut others out in order to gain control of them. Such habits begin in the nursery and crawl into the playground. Little Johnny finds that by sharing his candy with Tom, and only Tom, many other boys grow jealous and want some. In fact, these other boys invite Johnny into their games, offer him treats of their own and lavish whatever attention on him they think will gain them a bite of that candy.

Psychologists sometimes call it co-dependency, when really it is just pride and lust. Johnny likes being “made much of” and has learned that excluding others will provoke that response. Why do they make much of him? Because their lust for candy is so strong. But like all lusts, it is never satisfied. Before that candy is finished lust is crying out “It was not enough,” and it begs for more. And so the cycle runs.

What happens on the playground eventually walks into the office, the government, the family reunion and the bedroom – usually in a much more refined way. Exclusion is used to direct the lusts of those the excluders want to control. O, to be on the inside!

Christians must never play this game.

The Bible is overflowing with references to freedom. Freed from sin and its dominion, we are free to live as weapons of righteousness. The Spirit is given to us freely and He enables us to live free from every fear and worldly influence.

If we are making much of someone in order to “get in,” then we are not walking by the Spirit. Christians, of all people, are freed to look at all men equally.

Paul illustrates this idea in the same letter when he refers to those pillars of the church, the Apostles. In describing his visit with them he keeps referring to them as “those who seemed influential.” And this statement is qualified by the very plain, “what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality!”

Just as we must never fall prey to “making much of someone” in order to “get in,” so we must never “shut others out” so that they will “make much of us.” Those who follow Jesus must remember these words:

“You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”