THIS IS IMPORTANT!
Read Galatians 6:11-13
See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh.
Paul had something important he wanted to impress upon the Galatians so he grabbed the pen from the scribe who had been dictating and wrote in big letters. It’s like when we type in all caps or bold the font. Paul wanted his readers to understand how important his message is.
The Judaizers were telling the Gentile believers that they had to become Jews in order to be Christians. Circumcision was a part of Jewish law, so legalists were compelling Gentiles to get circumcised. But their motivations for urging them to do this were selfish. They wanted to impress people by the number of converts they had won. They wanted to be able to brag about it.
Men were also practicing circumcision in order to avoid persecution. The message of grace and salvation through faith but not through the law was not a popular one with Jewish legalists. So legalists persecuted the early church. In order to avoid this persecution, some men practiced circumcision in order to make it look like they obeyed Jewish law, even if they didn’t.
Paul pointed out that these people were not just selfish braggarts or cowardly compromisers. These people were also hypocrites. They kept the law of circumcision with sketchy motives, but they don’t bother obeying the rest of the law! So what good is their circumcision? It wasn’t good for anything except ungodly glory. They were living to impress men and not God. Paul was calling them out for their dishonesty.
Friends, THIS IS IMPORTANT! Following Jesus is not about impressing others. It’s not about following laws so we can brag about ourselves. And it’s not about avoiding persecution. If we are honest and sincere believers in Jesus’s work on the cross, Jesus himself warned us that we will face persecution. We cannot compromise the message of the cross for any reason! Not even to avoid persecution. And certainly not to make ourselves look better at the expense of others.
God, I confess that sometimes I seek to impress those around me. But following You is not about my comfort or my safety. It’s about making disciples. Give me the courage to continue to share Your Gospel with those around me, even in the face of persecution. Amen.
~ Pastor Nat Crawford
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