I Fear For You
Robert Wurtz II
I fear for you, lest my work towards you has been wasted. (Galatians 4:11)
Of all of Paul’s letters, this is the only one we know of that was written with his own hand writing. Generally he began his letters with a greeting, written with his own hand, and then dictated the letter to a trusted helper (amanuensis). He then closed the letter with his own hand so that the recipient would know it had come from Paul and was authentic. This was likely due to poor eyesight or poor handwriting that prevented Paul from writing neatly and uniformly. This letter to the Galatians was written from beginning to end with Paul’s own handwriting. Can you imagine the reaction of the people receiving this letter? It would likely have looked like a child had written it, because the letters would have been so large (Galatians 6:11 NKJV) What could possibly be so urgent that Paul would take up his pen and write an entire epistle all by himself? the readers knew immediately that this was a very serious situation. Why did he do it? I fear for you, lest my work towards you has been wasted. (Galatians 4:11)
The Bellows is Burned!
I have set thee for a tower and a fortress among my people, that thou mayest know and try their way. They are all grievous revolters, walking with slanders: they are brass and iron; they are all corrupters. The bellows are burned, the lead is consumed of the fire; the founder melteth in vain: for the wicked are not plucked away. Reprobate silver shall men call them, because the LORD hath rejected them. (Jeremiah 6:27-30)
This is a most troubling passage. The prophet employs the metaphor of a founder (similar to a blacksmith) to show how God had ‘turned the temperature up’ in the peoples lives in an attempt to see them purified, but they would not repent. In ancient times a founder would build a fire inside a fire proof box and then use a large bellows to force air into the fire making it hotter and hotter. This is how the temperature could rise to melt and purify metals. Our passage is dealing with God as the Founder heating a person’s life up until the fire got so hot that the bellows burned up! This is an amazing picture of God trying to see folk saved that just got worse and worse in the process until figuratively even the bellows caught fire. Amazing! That is a hopeless situation. Everything just consumed in the fire. Some people will never repent no matter how difficult the circumstances become or what God employs in their life to secure their repentance. It was a total waste of time or in Paul’s words, I fear for you, lest my work towards you has been in vain. (Galatians 4:11)
Fearing for others
Have you ever been at the bedside of a person that knowingly and willfully lived for the Devil all of their life and then tried to come to God at the end? I have. I know of a man that cursed and blasphemed as if God was not listening- all the while knowing the Bible and what was right and wrong. After many years of this I watched him struggle to believe that God could forgive him. At last he told me after many weeks that knowing he was facing the Judgment of God he was scared ________, having used and explicative. Those were the last words I ever remember him saying to me. He died the following week. I think of a man now deceased that others and I poured countless hours into. He would mock and make light of the things of God as if God was not watching him. The time would fail to tell of people I have ministered to, living and dead that I fear for. We all know people like this. The stories are common place. What was the problem?
It was rebellion pure and simple. Rebels often portray themselves as victims. God is not buying it. Seven billion people in this world and every one of them has a story. Jesus contrasted societies to bring reality home to the Jews. He talked about Sodom and Gomorrah rising up in judgment; a people known for their perversion. He spoke of Nineveh that was the capitol of Assyria- an empire so violent that God nearly wiped their capitol city off the face of the earth, rising in judgment against those that would not believe. Why? Because Nineveh repented at the preaching of Jonah and the people of Sodom would have repented in sackloth and ashes if they had heard the preaching of Jesus. We have heard it! What about us? We think God sent Sodom to hell and turned the temperature up, but Jesus said it will be worse for us than for them on the day of judgment. Paul said, “I fear for you!” Amen.
Rebellion is deceptive because the person rebelling doesn’t realize that the enemy is at their beckon call providing them with the resources they need to rebel. He is the master excuse seller. He is the manufacturer of lies and can churn them out at a pace to make Henry Ford step back. He gets the people doped up or drunk and then they start uttering all kinds of Satan’s horrendous blasphemies and lies against God and Heaven. Some commit sins that would make a demon tremble. Many of these are people that once knew the truth that are turning back to other gods not knowing that they may well be damning their own soul in their folly. Paul said, “I fear for you!” Many have hardened their hearts and seared their conscience until they don’t even feel conviction anymore.
As Paul was dealing with the situation at Galatia, we too have to deal with folks turning away from the faith in our times; people that play games with God not knowing the danger they are in. “I fear for you” is not just an expression: it is a reality that many of us as ministers feel for folks that live in rebellion. It is a dangerous thing to live in sin and know better. Judgment will be proportional to knowledge. But even now in this life I have seen the hand of God’s judgment upon people. Even as I type this my mind is swirling with names and faces of people that I have sought to reach with the Gospel and they have trod it all under foot- generally with the attitude that they will serve God when they get ready. I fear for them.