Stalemate | Galatians 5:16-18
And so I’m saying (are you listening?): as you walk in the dusty paths of this world let your feet carry you into a realm that truly transcends and transforms it all: the realm of Spirit, of Life, of Kingdom Come! It’s the one way to ensure you avoid the dead-end side roads your lower self would lead you down. Isn’t this how it plays out? Your higher Spirit-led self yearning for things above, pulling against your lower self; your lower self parading its safe, familiar urges and longings along it’s well-worn lower paths, pulling against your higher Spirit-led self? And there you are, in the middle, struck between the two, trapped and blocked whichever way you want to go. Face-off. Stand-off. Stalemate! But the higher Spirit-led life breaks the stalemate and finally avoids the checkmate of Law.
Galatians 5:16-18 | MAV
The stalemate Paul presents us with here seems to fit well in the classic “Mexican standoff” scenario. Most precisely, a Mexican standoff is a confrontation among three opponents (my mind automatically goes to The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly). In a traditional duel, the first to shoot has the advantage, in the Mexican standoff, it’s the second to shoot, because while A shoots at B, C can shoot A while he’s distracted shooting B. Okay, what kind of a devotion starts with shooting! Well, this one. This is a violent, life-and-death business here in Galatians as three parties square off: there’s the “higher Spirit-led self” (the “Spirit”), the lower carnal-driven self (the “flesh”), and you. And it’s a standoff we experience daily. Higher self vs. lower self, flesh vs. Spirit. And you in a pickle between them. The practical effect of the standoff is paralysis: “You cannot do the things that you would.” And as long as this standoff plays out under the auspices of Law (religion really does not help us here!) the flesh draws on us and consistently seems to win the day, one way or another. But as Paul goes on to develop here, we are armed with more than informed good intentions. To be “in the Spirit” is to tap into a spiritual realm and dynamic that doesn’t just give us the edge in this perpetual standoff; it removes the standoff altogether and frees us to get moving in God’s “unforced rhythms of grace” (see Matthew 11:28-30, Message Bible).
Where in your life do you presently feel stuck in a standoff? What might be the way out?
Lord, give me ears to hear and a heart to embrace the “better angel of my nature,” to cling and move to the higher Spirit-led self that you have placed within me. Let me choose to move in life-giving ways today.
The whole text this week is Galatians 5:16-26. Read it daily in it’s entirety from a few different translations if possible.
For all of this week’s resources on Galatians including this week’s DG video on Galatians, check out the Vineyard website.