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Don’t Be The Elephant

“You crazy Galatians! ... Have you taken leave of your senses? ...  Only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God” (Galatians 3:1-3, The Message).

Paul is practically yelling in frustration when he writes a few verses later that “anyone who tries to live by his own effort, independent of God, is doomed to failure” (Galatians 3:10). He is reminding the Galatians that their strength and freedom from sin is achieved by faith in Jesus alone.

Sin’s grip on our lives is no stronger than the rope that restrains a circus elephant. Elephants are powerful creatures, capable of amazing feats of strength, yet trainers are able to keep them in place with a rope and a small stake in the ground. How is this possible? Why does the elephant allow this intrusion on its freedom, its very nature of power?

It begins through training when the elephant is young. A strong chain is placed around the elephant’s ankle and secured with a formidable stake in the ground. The young pachyderm will pull and pull and pull until he or she eventually gives up, succumbing to the grip. Even when full-grown and capable of freeing itself, the pressure of a simple rope tied to a small stake holds the elephant captive because it has grown to believe it cannot pull free.

The Galatians are like a captive elephant. Their past beliefs of working their way to heaven have rendered them helpless. We, too, allow the chains of the past to bind us. The chains of a painful childhood, substance addiction, abusive marriage, works-based faith or (insert your “chain” here) are all mere strings and tiny stakes to God, easily broken. Yet because we believe they can, these things do hold us captive. Instead, believe and trust in God. His mighty power is available to us. Allow His strength to break your chains.


  • What are the things in your past or present that hold you captive?  Do you find yourself focused on doing more or working harder in order to please God?
  • Pray to God and ask Him to break the chains that bind you. It is through a relationship with Jesus that we are truly free.

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