Daily Reflection: Family Portrait | Galatians 4:21-23
So how’s this for a different tack. Tell me this one thing, you who are so eager to put your necks under the yoke of Law: aren’t you paying attention to what that Law actually says? This is the picture the Law paints, and the original is still on display after all this time: Abraham and his two boys. One of them was a child of a servant girl; the other of a free woman – his full and free wife, Sarah. The servant girl’s boy was conceived and delivered the same way everyone else is; the other boy was unique from the start – a child of Divine Promise. Galatians 4:21-23 | MAV
Any notion that Abraham is the “father of the faithful” because of a spotless record or a perfect home life is quickly dismissed when we look at his family portrait in the book of Genesis. The prophetic words from Belshazzar’s wall could have been written on Abraham’s with regard to his home life: weighed and found wanting. We’d even help the angel with that bit of divine graffiti if we weren’t thinking about how well the same graffiti would fit in our own homes. Abraham had two rival wives who gave birth to two rival sons. Sarah and Isaac. Hagar and Ishmael. In history, many lessons can be derived from observing this family portrait – most of them negative. So Paul does a surprising thing. He pulls out Abraham’s family portrait and turns it on the Galatians and their Law-hungry teachers. ‘You’re so hungry for Law? Then eat this, my friends,’ he seems to say. He then proceeds to do what all good rabbis would do: he takes that family portrait, cuts out the faces (as it were) and puts us in the picture. The shocker for all concerned is where we all fit. There is a great, scandalous reversal at work in this story, whatever else we may think about it, whatever other significance we see in it. And it mirrors the scandalous reversal at work among zealous law-keepers and former pagan believers. The question is, where are we in the story?
As you take time to reflect on the lives of Ishmael and Isaac this week, ask yourself where you see yourself in this story: Barren Sarah? Enslaved Hagar? Seemingly bewildered Abraham? Rejected Ishmael? Chosen Isaac? Where are you in this story and why?
Abba, keep me from making the mistakes and misjudgments that Abraham and Sarah made in their home life. Work through the mistakes I do make. Grant me the faith of Abraham, the boldness of Sarah, the eyes of Hagar, the laughter of Isaac, the submission of Ishmael. Through Jesus.
The whole text this week is Galatians 4:21-31. Read it daily in it’s entirety from a few different translations if possible. You can get the full background of Abraham’s story in Genesis chapters 16-21.
For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.