“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
In the early church, there was a strong debate about whether Christians should be circumcised or not. One side said that all Christians would first need to be Jews, so they should be circumcised and follow the law, and then they could be Christians. The other side held that through Christ the law was fulfilled and the legalistic things like circumcision no longer held any weight. That’s the argument that Paul is making here.
It’s important to understand that this doesn’t just apply to the specific act of circumcision but to legalism altogether – that is, trying to be righteous on your own by following rules to a t rather than by the grace of God.
Paul says that no law that you follow counts for anything in the end, but only faith expressed through love. We are saved by nothing other than faith in Jesus Christ. There is no way that any of us can “behave” enough to save ourselves. So how do we know that our faith is real? It is expressed through love.
No amount of rule following is going to make anyone any less of a sinner. No amount of by-the-books obedience will change the fact that we all need a savior. We have been given that savior by God, and we obtain our salvation only through faith in him. But that faith is not passive. It leads to a love for God and for his people that must bear fruit. That fruit is love. Selfless, unconditional, and servant love.
January 25 2023 Prayer:
I pray that you would give us stronger faith. I pray that we would not put our faith in ourselves or our own ability to follow rules, but that we would put all of our faith in Jesus Christ who saves us. Let the love of Christ overflow into our lives and inform everything that we do.
In Jesus’ Name,