The Pinocchio Paradox (Part 1)

What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father.” Galatians 4:1-2

The Pinocchio Paradox is my term for the situation in Galatians 4:1-7. I will be writing about why we as children of God and heirs to his eternal glory have found little perceivable difference between being sons and slaves.

You are already very familiar with the classic questions of our faith. “Why isn’t there a more obvious difference between Christians and Non-Christians?” “Why don’t I experience blessings of healing, health or even happiness?” “Why is my life no different from the average unbeliever?” Well, although the answers are truly multifaceted, the answer for this essay is: “as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave.”


Let us think about Pinocchio’s story for a moment. Yes, there was that wonderful moment when Pinocchio received his wish and became a real boy. But, his life situation as a real boy is not much different from being a wooden boy. He still has the same Father, and the same conscience (friend Jiminy Cricket). Although our favorite marionette has become free of wood and strings, he is not free of his guardians.In a similar way, when you became “free” in Christ, did you immediately advance to a “Father in the faith”, or did you, in fact, become a child of God? Paul says you became a child. This child (or son) status is wonderful in and of itself because we are now able to call God, “Abba Father.” (Gal. 4:6)

However, we are not yet fully matured, nor are we operating anywhere close to the autonomous Spirit-led being God intends us to grow up to be. Our end journey in Christian maturation is to grow up to be an adult God-Being. (Jesus Christ is our best example here.)

Here in Galatians by the 5th chapter, Paul is telling us the teaching we are so familiar with: We have to be “led by the Spirit” in order to become mature. (Gal. 5:16) We see this teaching show up all over the place in scripture, but little do we realize how we delay our own growth in the Spirit.


The story of Pinocchio is still a good working metaphor even here. Pinocchio, through his story, has become a “real boy” because he quit being deceived by his own lies and others lies. He finally puts together some selfless behavior and begins letting his conscience be his guide. This equates to our story and how we should be led by the Spirit. Until we start acting upon the Spirit’s guide we will remain merely “boys”; children of God.

It is interesting to me how in I Cor. 4:14-15, after calling the Corinthian Christians “mere infants in Christ” (I Cor. 3:1), Paul then says: “I am not writing this to shame you, but to warn you as my dear children. Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many Fathers…” Regardless of how we interpret this, the truth is, not many Christians are making it to “father” status. Few grow to maturity. Mostremain children.

This is not a matter of salvation. Many Christians do (and will) spend all their earthly lives being babes in the faith, calling out “Abba Father” in every aspect of their life’s journey to heaven. This is not held against us, for surely we do receive the kingdom as children. However, there is a way to maturity, and only the spirit will lead us there. The matter then becomes one of “life in the Spirit” and keeping in step with the Spirit. (Gal. 5:25)

I have much to say about this, but will be unable to do so in one essay. For now, let us continue to figure how we do so often end our story here with Pinocchio: satisfied to be “real boys” in the faith. Do we live happily ever after as real boys – heirs of salvation? Or, will be become something more? The Pinocchio Paradox has many christians still under the guardians of our faith. When will we get out of this roosting nest, and “soar on wings like eagles”? (Isaiah 40:31) The preceding verse says, “Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall.” (Isaiah 40:30) How is it we have grown so old being “youths,” tired and weary???

In Part Two we will visit the most popular story in the Bible and the most popular word we preach. The implications may change your Christian maturity in an extreme way.

The Foundation of Praise

Psalms 40:8-10

Every time David and other writers penned a song of worship, they spoke about the Lord’s specific attributes or actions. When the songs were compiled into the book we now call Psalms, the collection became like a biography of God—one that relies upon the language of praise and adoration to tell His story.

The ability to worship grows out of a love for the Lord. Because genuine love is always cultivated by learning about the other person’s character, the true root of praise is knowledge. That’s why God instilled in every believer a longing to know more of Him. We satisfy that desire by spending time with the Lord and by fellowshipping with other Christians. We also observe how the Father works in our lives to meet needs and provide blessings. Discovering each new facet of His character deepens both our knowledge of Him and our understanding of why He deserves praise.

Experiencing God in our lives makes us fall in love with Him. A person in love cannot help praising the one he or she cherishes. So we gratefully honor Jesus Christ with words, songs, dance, or whatever else appropriately expresses our delight in Him.

Our devotion does not have to stay private or remain confined within the church community. Each believer has a “biography” of the Lord to share. It’s a story of accumulated praise not only for how He has intervened in chaos, comforted in tragedy, and blessed abundantly, but also for the lessons learned. We share our adoration with the world so that others might come to know, love, and praise the Savior.

The Settled Word

“Forever, O LORD, thy word is settled in heaven.” (Psalm 119:89)

Most who read the Bible regularly are probably familiar with these sweeping statements from the Scriptures.

– “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11).
– “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:18).
– “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
– “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Peter 1:25).

On this foundation, the psalmist made additional promises to his Lord in this stanza (Psalm 119:89-96). He noted the affliction that almost took his life (v. 92) and the wicked who tried to destroy him (v. 95), common enough occurrences among the godly. But in spite of the troubles in life, this godly man knew that the evidence abounds for God’s faithfulness throughout the earth (vv. 90-91).

God’s 77 rhetorical questions to Job (Job 38–41) centered on the evidence of His control and care for the universe. These prompted the psalmist to reiterate his commitment to a firm familiarity with God’s precepts and a continual effort to seek them (Psalm 119:93-94).

He knew that the wicked would continue trying to destroy, and that human affairs limit the possibility of perfection. But the godly man would understand God’s testimonies, since they are sufficient to apply to all situations (v. 96). HMM III

Piles of Ashes

Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. —Hebrews 12:11

If God has singled you out to be a special object of His grace you may expect Him to honor you with stricter discipline and greater suffering than less favored ones are called upon to endure….

If God sets out to make you an unusual Christian He is not likely to be as gentle as He is usually pictured by the popular teachers. A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the rude, unshapely marble to a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer and the chisel are cruel tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful.

To do His supreme work of grace within you He will take from your heart everything you love most. Everything you trust in will go from you. Piles of ashes will lie where your most precious treasures used to be.

Lord, give me the grace to withstand “the saw, the hammer and the chisel.” I submit myself today to Your working. Amen.

Jesus Asks Us to Love the Unlovely

No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. 1 John 4:12

In his earthly ministry, our Lord Jesus loved babies, publicans, harlots and sick people—and He loved them spontaneously and individually!

The person who claims to follow Christ cannot afford to do otherwise.

A peril always confronting the minister is that he may come unconsciously to love religious and philosophic ideas rather than saints and sinners. It is altogether possible to feel for the world of lost men the same kind of detached affection that the naturalist Fabre, say, felt for a hive of bees or a hill of black ants. They are something to study, to learn from, possibly even to help, but nothing to weep over or die for!

Where this attitude prevails it soon leads to a stilted and pedantic kind of preaching. The minister assumes that his hearers are as familiar with history, philosophy and theology as he is, so he indulges in learned allusions, makes casual references to books and writers wholly unknown to the majority of people who listen to him, and mistakes the puzzled expression on the faces of his parishioners for admiration of his brilliance!

Why religious people continue to put up with this sort of thing, as well as to pay for it and support it, is beyond me. I can only add it to the long list of things I do not and probably never will understand.

Life Flows from God

God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. GENESIS 1:31

Without doubt, we have suffered the loss of many spiritual treasures because we have let slip the simple truth that the miracle of the perpetuation of life is in God!

Be assured that God did not create life and toss it from Him like some petulant artist disappointed with his work. All life is in Him and out of Him, flowing from Him and returning to Him again, a moving indivisible sea of which He is the fountainhead.

That eternal life which was with the Father is now the possession of believing men and women, and that life is not God’s gift only—but His very Self! The regeneration of a believing soul is but a recapitulation of all His work done from the moment of creation.

So, redemption is not a strange work which God for a moment turned aside to do.

Rather, it is His same work performed in a new field, the field of human catastrophe!

Father, that Your gift of eternal life flows through us is a wondrous thought for those who know You. But for those who haven’t received You as Savior, the gift will turn into an eternal nightmare. Lord, mobilize Your Church to proclaim the gospel as never before.