"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood," Robert Frost tells us in his poem "The Road Not Taken." He took "the one less traveled by," and that "made all the difference."
But choosing a road only because it is less traveled seems to be a risky basis for navigation through life. How can we be sure that we are on the road to blessing?
When we read Galatians 3:10-14 we are struck by the antithesis of two words: curse and blessing. In this section Paul describes two alternative roads: the first leads to a curse (v. 10), the second to blessing (v. 14).
Faced by this fork in the road on their journey, the Galatian Christians had difficulty knowing which way to take. Some Jewish Christians were pointing to the well-traveled road that had been taken by the Jewish people for centuries. "Join us in the Jewish way of life," they said. "Only if you identify yourselves with us and come with us will you find blessing." They emphasized the noble, distinctive traditions of the Jewish nation.
But Paul argues in this passage that identification with the Jewish nation by observing the Mosaic law is not the way that leads to blessing. In fact, the claim that blessing depends exclusively on national identity leads to a terrible curse. Identification with Christ is the only way that leads to true blessing.
Four quotations from Scripture are used as signposts at this fork in the road to indicate which way leads to a curse and which way leads to blessing. We may label these four signposts with four words: curse (v. 10), faith (v. 11), law (v. 12) and cross (vv. 13-14).
Of course today we do not face pressure to turn to the Jewish way of life. But there are people similar to the intruders in Galatia who want to map out for us the way that leads to blessing. The road they point to is defined in terms of cultural customs.
The signposts that Paul placed in the fork of the road for the Galatian believers can direct us today.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.