“I am afraid for you, lest I have labored for you in vain”
I am afraid for you,
Paul fears for the Galatians because of their relapse into legalism. How easily we surrender the grace principle! The issue here is clearly a danger for Christians, not non-Christians.
lest I have labored for you
The word “labored” means labor to the point of exhaustion. Paul went to great lengths in his labor for the Galatians.
The words “for you” indicate that Paul aimed at obtaining results in his ministry at Galatia.
If the Galatians revert into legalism, Paul would have labored in vain. Paul’s labour to the point of exhaustion for the Galatians was fruitless if they fall back into legalism.
We should design our ministry to obtain results.
A great heartache of ministry is for a leader to pour his or her life into someone and then watch them go off on some theological tangent. The best contribution we can make to those who follow us is to give them the Word of God and trust that it will remain in their souls.
“…holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain” (Philippians 2:16).
Anyone who violates the equation Christ plus nothing, shackles himself or herself with legalism. Christ plus nothing equals salvation. Christ plus nothing equals sanctification. It is not Christ plus our religion. It is Christ plus nothing, period!
Many Christians are more than willing to defect from the principle of grace. Some people are incurably religious. They want to go through religious rigor to gain favor with God. This gives them the feeling that they can make some contribution on their own that will commend them to God. They have great difficulty in accepting pure, unadulterated grace.