I love the poetry and symmetry of the King James Version of the Bible. All of the verses I know by heart and many that are tucked away in my spirit come from the KJV. However, some of the high sounding words and phrases don’t register our contemporary lifestyle and we may think we have a pass on what they mean. That’s why I like to read other translations, and in case you haven’t figured it out already, Eugene Peterson’s The Message translation is one of my favorite.
As we continue to look at Galatians, chapter 5 has so many truisms, for instance:
19-21 It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on. Galatians 5:19-21 (MSG)
Try as you might to feel as if you are not part of this group while reading the KJV, you can’t escape in these plain words. All of us, at one time or another have fit one of the above categories. And all of us if and when we find ourselves here, it is because we are trying to get our own way!
There is another point to really looking at a scripture like this. Although we may not presently fit any or all of these descriptions, we are subject to, because they are works of the flesh. Also, our family, friends, co-workers, fellow parishioners, are just as subject to these failures as we are. These are the things we pray against, not only in our lives, but also in the lives of those we love and those we encounter.
Take a good look at the book of Galatians in another translation – it is not only filled with wisdom, it describes so vividly the temptations of this life, we will never be in the dark about what can separate us from God.