I plead with you, brothers and sisters, become like me, for I became like you. You did me no wrong.
It’s one thing to start something. It’s another thing altogether to keep at it. It’s easy to start a diet but hard to stay on it. It’s simple to begin an exercise routine but making it a daily habit is way harder. It takes no effort to say I love you, but it takes a daily commitment to make it real. To make it stick.
How many times have we started something only to stop a short time later? Think about the last commitment you made to start something new, or to stop something old. You started like a house on fire, but eventually ran out of steam.
I have a friend that broke his commitment to his wife and had an affair. He asked me and another guy to meet him for breakfast to help him and his family. We committed to read and openly discuss a chapter of a book every week.
At first, everyone came on time and well prepared. But then things started to slide. Slowly at first, but then more and more noticeable. My friend didn’t read the chapter, or he showed up late. Then came the excuses about how his wife was the source of his infidelity. It was also her fault that their reconciliation was so painfully slow.
When it came to the Galatians and Paul, his full and fiery commitment started off strong. But it didn’t slip. It didn’t weaken. It stayed right there. His life, his commitment to them didn’t move. His life was “pedal-to-the-metal” when it came to them.
And Paul’s commitment wasn’t just strong when he first arrived. It didn’t stay powerful just because people were committing their lives to Jesus. His commitment wasn’t dependent on the church growing either.
When things started to go south. When outsiders infiltrated the church and started taking it in a different direction. When people began drifting towards doing things to help their salvation, Paul didn’t bail on them. He didn’t say that they were unworthy of him, and he was going to start another church down the road. No, he stayed right there with them.
He pleaded with them to trust Jesus and Jesus alone for their new, living relationship with God. He spoke to them with deep, personal feelings about who Jesus is, what he had done, and what their moving away from him meant.
But he didn’t just plead once and then go home. He didn’t talk to them for a day and then call it quits. He didn’t send out a text or record a video that could be replayed to them.
No, Paul made a personal appeal. He spoke to them face to face. He met with them and explained what was going on. His pleading went on and on. He didn’t stop. He kept at it. This was so important that it deserved his time and attention.
Why was it so important that Paul was willing not to give up? Because, like them, he had been freed from the bondage of the law. He knew all about the pressure to follow all the different rules and regulations. And he also knew about the guilt and shame that always, always, always followed.
Paul knew that trying to follow any set of rules will always lead to failure. No one can remain faithful to them all the time. We’re going to break them. And after we break the laws, we’re always overcome with guilt and shame. That’s what’s in store for anyone who choses following rules and laws over God’s grace.
They had chosen Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for all their sins. They had experienced God’s full forgiveness and being made part of his forever family. They became one with Christ and the old slavery of rules and laws was dead to them. Or was it.
People had infiltrated the church in order to point the Galatians back to the laws. And they were headed back, sliding back to impressing God with their obedience. They believed the lie that it was all about what they did and not what Jesus did.
But Paul wasn’t going to give up that easy. He was going to plead with them. And plead with them again. And again. He reminded them of who Jesus is and what he’s done for them. He also pointed out all the benefits they had personally experienced with their freedom in Christ.
Why could Paul do this? How could he know what to say? Why was he so passionate about it? Because this is exactly where he had come from. All his life he was taught, and taught others, that we had to obey rules, laws, regulations, and traditions in order to get God’s attention. For him to answer our prayers. To heal our bodies. To provide for our needs.
But Paul literally “saw the light” when Jesus appeared to him. And this changed him completely. No more chained to following rules, but released through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Like Paul’s story, I bet there’s a story in your life that only you can tell. How you were lost, and Jesus found you. How he saved you. A story that others need to hear.
So, go and tell your story. Keep telling your story. Keep it up till the whole world hears.
 Acts 9:1-6