February 16, 2021
You were running a good race. Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth? That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. “A little yeast works through the whole batch of dough.” I am confident in the Lord that you will take no other view. The one who is throwing you into confusion, whoever that may be, will have to pay the penalty. Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves!
Hopefully you never do something so aggravating that you get a letter from your spiritual leader telling you to emasculate yourself. Paul is clearly angry at the agitators spreading division among the believers. Why? As far as sins go, an overexuberance for law (circumcision, in this case) and tradition doesn’t seem that bad.
Humans love laws. They like clear systems of delineation that separate plants from animals, carbs from proteins, men from women, Jews from Gentiles. But our love of customs, traditions, laws, and systems create divisions where God says there are none. The flesh is corrupted by prejudice and bigotry. Earlier in Galatians Paul explains that “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Our impulse to treat others differently based on worldly divisions and to apply conditions to love comes from the sinful nature, not the spirit.
We can easily see the divisions we create among strangers and foreigners, but our sinful nature doesn’t stop there. Even our closest relationships can crumble when we ask each other for strict observance of laws rather than loving each other selflessly and unconditionally: “I did this, now I expect that. It’s only fair.” “I can’t believe she did that. Now she’s got to deal with the consequences!” “Well, he got what was coming to him.”
Instead, let’s remember that our relationships are an act of service to God. He expects us to love one another as an expression of our faith in Him. As God forgives, we forgive. As God loves, we love. Our sinful nature wants division and discord, but the spirit wants us to live in unity together.
We pray that our love of tradition and familiarity doesn’t isolate us from you. You are the God of every person from every culture from every place on earth. We are all made in your image, you who are unknowable and brought the world in infinite variety into existence. Your children resemble your vast diversity. Help us to see each other and hear each other as brothers and sisters; all recipients of your grace and all deserving of our love.