A few weeks ago, Uncle Jack came down to visit so I could fix something that was wrong with his phone. Unfortunately, it was during all of the construction. Red Lion Rd. had all those cones up and was reconfigured AND the railroad crossing on Route 7 was closed with a detour around it. He could not find his way here with all the construction, cones and detours. He was forcibly sidetracked down many other roads. His goal was to come to our house-but he almost gave up.
This happens in life in more areas than just driving. It also happens in our spiritual life. Sometimes the “sidetracking” is something God put in our path to train us or change our direction, but unfortunately, there can also be people who are “detours” that keep us from where we are going or from “running the race” well as Paul puts it. The things God puts in our path are for our own good and unavoidable. The people in our life and that lead us away from God and into sin are not good. In fact, Paul tells us they keep us from running a good race. They keep us from obeying the truth. Today’s verse is in a larger section where Paul is giving the Galatian believers instructions to stop being distracted from what they know to be truth by those around them who are feeding them lies, making them still do all the things prescribed in the law and taking away their freedom in Christ. He is giving us the same instruction. Stop listening and obeying those who are detracting us from our walk with the Lord. Stop letting them slow us down in our race to become Christlike and to be approved on that day. Stop letting them persuade us from obeying the truth.
Who are those people in our lives? It will be different for you than me., but Paul gives us a list later on to help us identify them. He tells us what the results will be, if we are being detoured or “cut off”. Those who encourage us OR do NOT discourage us from practicing sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry or witchcraft (think horoscopes in our day), hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition (“follow your dream no matter what” mentality), dissensions, factions (exclusive “squads”), envy, drunkenness, and orgies are those people. (Gal. 5:19-20) Anyone who pushes us to these sins or to disobey God is someone who is slowing us down in our race. Just like the detours nearly stopped Uncle Jack from reaching our house, people in our lives who lead us into sin and disobedience are cutting us off. We need to run to win-and run at all costs, casting anything and everything out of our path that cuts us off from reaching our goal.