Gal 4:10-12 “Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. Brethren, I beseech you, be as I am; for I am as ye are: ye have not injured me at all.”
The Galatian churches were already being heavily influenced by those who had come from Jerusalem to bring them under Judaism. In spite of being drawn by the grace and liberty of Christ, they were already observing many of the law customs of Sabbath, feast times, etc. Nelson’s New Illustrated Commentary says concerning verse ten, “The word days likely refers to Sabbaths or special feasts. Months and seasons pertain to longer observances, such as the celebrations between the Passover and the Day of Pentecost. Years probably indicates the Year of Jubilee, the fiftieth year in which slaves were to be freed, family lands returned to their original owners, and the land left fallow (Lev. 23—25). The Jews commemorated all these feasts in order to please God.”
While our first thought might be “What’s wrong with keeping these things in order to please God?”, the simple truth is that our keeping these things can never set us free or truly please God. If we are going to observe these things, then we are bound to keep them continually and exactly as prescribed by the law (Gal 3:10). To fail once in the smallest of points is to fail completely (Jas 2:10). There is no rest or peace in a legal system of worship, because we cannot for a moment let our guard down.
Paul is calling the churches to consider whether or not keeping the legal observances is in keeping with the gospel he has preached to them. He expresses a concern that most of us who labor with the churches of the Living God have felt at one time or another. Paul’s expression of being “afraid” did not indicate that he was in fear of them as though they would do him some harm. What Paul is saying is that he is concerned that he has somehow failed to impress upon them the power of the truth of Jesus Christ. He has labored diligently and zealously to set before them the wonderful truth of salvation by grace only to see them being turned to faith in a law that cannot deliver them.
At this point, some men might become discouraged in their efforts or hold the objects of that effort in disdain for their rejection. Paul’s love for the churches was not fickle, and neither should ours be. Instead he reminds them of their connection to each other through Jesus and calls them brethren. Since there were Gentiles in these churches, the only way this connection could be made is through the grace and liberty of Jesus Christ.
He then urges them to walk in the liberty that he is walking in when he calls them brethren. I wonder how often we are so dedicated to our love for the well-being of our brothers and sisters in Christ that we would go out of our way to urge them to be faithful in their walk with Jesus? These people meant something to Paul, and their faithfulness to Jesus meant something to Paul. At the same time, he did not want them to think that it was just a matter of his feelings being hurt because they had made “new friends.” Paul is assuring them that he loves them as much as always (“I am as ye are”). He further assures them that his admonishment is not because he is personally offended (“ye have not injured me at all”).
May we be blessed of God to encourage our brothers and sisters to remain faithful to the liberty of the gospel of Jesus Christ without making it about us personally: it is not about us, but about the Way, the Truth, and the Life!