Small Group Tools
Contemporary Comments 2016
Paul’s Pastoral Appeal
Texts: Galatians 4:12-20; 1 Corinthians 11:1, Philippians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 9:19-23; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12
August 26, 2017
After two months of searching and sending out appeals for help, a family recently found that their pet tortoise was safe and well the entire time in a nearby field. Eight-year-old Lily-May Crouch was devastated when her tortoise escaped from its home in Bagworth village in Leicestershire, England. The community and friends searched for Perry, the adventuresome tortoise, but he eluded his captors. Mum Helen Crouch said, “Tortoises are fast when they want to be. Perry escaped while I was talking to someone at the door on Wednesday. But because he roams around the house to find somewhere to sleep, we didn’t realize he’d escaped until Thursday. We put posters out and friends even came from as far as Blaby to hunt for him, but with 24 hours out in the big wide countryside it was like looking for a needle in a hay stack.”
When the two months of displaying posters and endless searching and Facebook appeals proved fruitless, the family lost all hope. Consigned to Perry’s fate, they converted his wooden pen into a memorial garden. Against all odds, however, a black retriever found the small Horsfield’s tortoise in a field near their home. The dog owner returned the tortoise the following day.
Helen added, “We were over the moon. To tell Lily-May her Perry was back after so many tears was amazing. I can’t believe he survived. We have had some bad weather, and tortoises need to be kept warm and they are very fussy with what they eat. But Perry seems fit and well, he’s a little greener than he was but I think that’s because he’s lived in and eaten grass for two months. We will be forever grateful to the man and his dog.” Lily-May appealed for help, and the lost was found. 
Our lesson this week discusses Paul’s heartfelt appeal to the Galatians. They may not have been physically lost, but he feared for their spiritual safety and well-being. Just as little Lily-May shed tears over her lost tortoise, we get the same picture of Paul’s emotional sense of loss in Sunday’s lesson, where he says to the Galatians “I’m begging you.” The lesson points out that Paul “considered himself more than just a friend; he was their spiritual father, and they were his children.” Paul’s appeal to the Galatians is borne out of his love and compassion for those he fears are lost.
They were not always in this condition. Early on, the Galatians welcomed Paul with open arms. They cared for him in his time of illness and formed a bond. It was only after others had duped them—false teachers who perverted the pure gospel message—that their relationship with Paul cooled. Now Paul wants to rekindle that initial warm relationship. It’s always a time to rejoice when the lost are found.