Thursday Reflection – July 04, 2019
Faith expressing itself in love
“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” Galatians 5:6
Today’s reflection takes us to Galatians chapter 5 and more specifically verse 6. We are more acquainted with this chapter, because it speaks about the fruit of the Spirit and the works of the flesh, however it is the discussion that took place earlier in the chapter that led up to these popular verses. The discussion begins with freedom. At that time there were persons arguing that circumcision was needed in order to be saved, however Paul countered that argument by stating that Christ’s death and resurrection has set us free from the bondage of the Jewish law. This freedom does not mean we are free to do whatever we want. So, we cannot use it to gratify the sinful desires of the flesh. Instead we must use this freedom to serve another in love. Verse 6 summarizes beautifully this text, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”
As I examined this text, I began to reflect deeply on this verse. Paul was addressing a misnomer created by Christians who believe that circumcision is the most important thing in salvation. These Christians began to confuse others (verse 7) by focusing on the non-essential. It makes me wonder how often we focus on the non-essential within our own churches… and how often do we allow these non-essentials to take priority over what is truly essential? What is the non-essential? This is anything that is not crucial to your faith in God and the salvific process. So when we argue about the length of service this is a non-essential. If we make it to heaven we’ll be praising God for the rest of our lives. Whether we paint the church in white or blue is a non-essential. Whether we cover our head or not in church is a non-essential. The use of the litany every Sunday is a non-essential. If you use it that is okay. If you don’t use it that is still okay. I doubt you’ll go to hell for not using it.
What is important though is faith expressing itself in love. I share the commentary on this verse from the New Living Translation. “We are saved by faith, not by deeds. But love for others and for God is the response of those whom God has forgiven… Because faith expresses itself through love, you can check your love for others as a way to monitor your faith.” We know that we are saved by grace for it is a gift from God, but we accept this gift through our faith. Now as a result of this acceptance we are required to demonstrate our love for God and our love for others. THIS IS WHAT IS CRUCIAL TO THE SALVIFIC PROCESS. Anyone who does not love does not know God for God is love (1 John 4:8). If we say we love God, but do not love others then we are a liar and the truth is not within us (1 John 4:20).
How we treat God and others is what is truly important. So we cannot say we love God, but we run the beggar that comes to church every Sunday. We cannot say we love, but our focus is only within Church and there are people within the community that need help. We cannot say we love, but there are those who have not heard the Good News of Jesus. We cannot say we love, but we look down on others or speak maliciously of them. We cannot say we love God and speak down to others and mistreat them, because you’re in a better position than they are.
I charge us not to make the non-essentials a priority; instead let us focus on the essential and show love to everyone. In the words of Shaneka Raymore-Euphfa “Love is an action word” so let us do it.
Until next week remember faith expressing itself in love is truly what is important.