“Brethren, I urge you to become like me, for I became like you. You have not injured me at all”
Paul now shifts his approach from dealing in the historical and doctrinal, to personally appealing to the Galatians remembering their initial reception of the grace principle (Galatians 4:12-20). At their conversion they accepted the mutually exclusive principle of grace.
Paul makes an appeal to the Galatians based on their relationship in Christ. Why should they resent him for telling the truth?
I urge you to become like me,
Paul is faithful to the gospel of grace. He now urges the Galatians to be faithful to the gospel as well. As a Pharisee, Paul was proud of his self-righteousness but when he came to Christ, he left self-righteousness for Christ’s righteousness (Philippians 3:4-9). He completely threw himself on the grace of God. Paul’s appeal is that the Galatians would come to the same position.
for I became like you.
Where Paul was once, the Galatians are now — legalistic. Paul laid aside legalism to take his place beside the Gentiles. He gave up legalism and its associations. Paul urges the Galatians to abandon the law as a system of gaining God’s approval as he abandoned it for them.
Paul was just like the Galatians when they received Christ. They rejected religion as a way of salvation and fell on Christ as their only hope. Paul is a man of grace, for he rejected legalism as a way of salvation. He understood the pressure legalism could put on people.
You have not injured me at all
The Galatians did not injure Paul in their regression into legalism. This is not a personal issue with Paul. He has no personal quarrel with them.
We should not make doctrinal battles a personal issue.
When someone falls into false doctrine, it becomes not only an issue of principle but also an issue of people. False doctrine is a valid area for falling out with those who err from the truth. In any case, mature Christians cannot allow personal feelings to get in the way of principle or essential truth. If we allow feelings to get in the way of truth, we undermine truth. There is no place for unfriendliness and hostility in the work of Christ.
Fighting for the principle of grace should never become a personal issue, however, it is worth the price of war on grounds of principle. The issue is too great and the stakes too high to cave into the false teachings of legalism. We should not view this as an attack on us personally; it is an attack on the person and work of Christ. Legalism puts people in a religious straightjacket.