Grace to the Barren (Part 1) – Gospel in Life

Grace to the Barren (Part 1)

Tim Keller |  March 8, 1998

Download Agreement

By downloading this file, I confirm I understand Gospel in Life's Copyright & Permissions policies and agree to only use this file for personal usage and will not upload it to any third-party platforms.


  • Discipleship and Spiritual Growth
Galatians 4:21-31
RS 288-19

Galatians 4:19–31

Galatians talks about freedom, law versus promise, what real faith looks like, and how we can be fooled by wrong teachings. It highlights the power of truth and the key role of honest relationships in sharing this truth. It uses the image of childbirth to show the difference between real growth and just looking good. It stresses how important it is to teach the truth to people to bring about real change.

1. A friend is someone who sees your potential and helps you grow

God is carefully shaping us for specific good deeds, creating us to reflect His glory. Spiritual friends, chosen by God, have the ability to understand our individual potential and God’s plan for us. They play a big part in our spiritual growth. Friendship is more than just a relationship, it’s about sharing dreams and love, with God revealing the beauty in each of us.

2. A friend is dedicated to helping you become more like Christ, not more like them

People often focus more on their own growth than helping others grow spiritually. This selfish approach can lead to seeking approval and validation from others instead of encouraging their spiritual growth. But true friendship is about being committed to helping others become more like Christ and being open to expanding your circle of friends.

3. A friend is willing to work hard for your growth

Paul’s use of childbirth as a metaphor when talking to the Corinthians shows his desire to help them grow and become more like Christ. This means not trying to force someone to be a certain way, but also not accepting everything about them without question. It highlights the need for friendships that are committed to honesty. Through the Bible, the Holy Spirit, and Christian friendships, we can learn what parts of our personality to develop and what parts to let go of.

1. Don’t stop making friends

Living in a busy place like New York can make you tired of making new friends. But it’s important to keep making new connections because they’re crucial for your spiritual growth and for Christ to grow within you. It may seem like a small thing, but it’s extremely important.

2. Balance being active and receptive when making friends

It’s important to find the right balance between pursuing friendships and allowing them to naturally develop. Don’t make friends out of a desperate need for approval. This can lead to being too selective and prevent real connections. But you can overcome this by loving everyone equally and trusting God to bring true friends into your life. At the same time, being too passive or lazy can prevent friendships from forming, so actively and openly sharing your time, feelings, belongings, troubles, and decisions can help you build meaningful relationships with the friends God has given you.

3. Friendship should come before romance

Friendship is an important foundation for romantic relationships. It’s often easier to go from being friends to being in a romantic relationship than the other way around. Your spouse should ideally be your best friend and being physically attractive shouldn’t be more important than being a good friend. Recognizing Jesus as the ultimate friend who loves us unconditionally can help us be better friends to others and deepen our relationship with Him.



I Am the Vine

By Tim Keller

How to Change

By Tim Keller

Hope for the Church

By Tim Keller

June Book Offer

Deepen and Strengthen Your Marriage!

Marriage is one of the most profound human relationships — but it can also be one of the most challenging. So Tim and Kathy Keller designed a devotional book for married couples to use together.