In the culture of the day, as Paul writes to the Galatian church, an underage heir of an estate is no more or no less better off than a slave; the benefit of inheriting the estate only falls to that 'heir' when they are 'of age', when the appointed time has come to pass. Until then, they are cared for but they do not inherit the full benefits of the appointed 'son and heir'. In this season of Advent, as we focus on looking back to the first coming of Christ and forward to the return of Christ, the significance of what Paul writes to the church in this passage is equally significant for us. In verses 4-5 Paul writes "But when the set time had fully come, God sent his son, born of a women, ... that we might receive adoption to sonship".
The significance of what Paul writes is this; the appointed time for those who are in Christ, has come, and we are therefore now declared to be inheritors of the estate; we are declared to be "sons". This term is a legal term for only sons could fully inherit the estate. The emphasis here is NOT that only male disciples who are in Christ become heirs but rather ALL who are in Christ, are declared to be full inheritors, that is, they gain 'sonship'. And because we are 'sons' with full inheritance, we have been given the fullness of the Spirit. Verse 7 therefore restates the significance of what the Birth of Jesus the Christ, at the appointed time in God salvation plan, has accomplished - we are, individually, an heir.
What we celebrate at this time we call "Christmas" - that is the 'Christ-mass', the special feast of the Christ child, is a celebration of what God has done, in Christ, at just the right time in his salvation plan. What we celebrate is not a random season of goodwill; it's not simply a time to be good to one another. No, it's a time when we remember that decisive moment in the salvation plan of God for his world, that distinguished one era from another. Before the birth of Jesus the Christ, humanity was waiting for the dawn of Salvation and the arrest of sin and decay. In just a few days we will remember that at just the right time, the appointed time, the birth of Jesus demonstrated a significant shift in what God was doing within his creation.
In this 'festive season', consider how you, as inheritors of the the Kingdom, might live out your 'sonship' - as full heirs of your inheritance. As Paul moves toward concluding his letter to the Galatian church, he urges, "Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of God" (Gal 6:10). What opportunity do you have over the next week to live out the reality of who you are "in Christ" by doing good to others and helping them see the goodness of God that is found only in the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ.