Read: Galatians 2:16 (ERV)
We know that no one is made right with God by following the law. It is trusting in Jesus Christ that makes a person right with God. So we have put our faith in Christ Jesus, because we wanted to be made right with God. And we are right with him because we trusted in Christ—not because we followed the law. I can say this because no one can be made right with God by following the law.
When it comes to wealth and people, most will insist they do not have a partiality for any economic status. However, when driving past beautiful houses versus homes in dire need of repair, or passing someone on the street dressed in name-brand clothes versus a homeless person, we can find ourselves showing favoritism, even if just in our mind. Perhaps it is because we wish for what we do not have. Perhaps it is because we are uncomfortable around the less fortunate and hope to never be like them. The irony in our reaction to the fortunate and less fortunate, is we see ourselves as superior or less superior. I suspect in either case, neither leaves us feeling good about ourselves. We know it is not who God wants us to be in our hearts, yet we still have those moments of failure.
We are not alone. While in Antioch, the apostle Peter ate with non-Jewish people (Gentiles) but when Jewish men came around, Peter separated himself from the Gentiles. You see, Gentiles were not considered pure by Jewish law. Although Peter knew all people were created equal in God’s eyes, he was concerned about what his fellow Jews would think seeing him associating with non-Jews. Peter’s actions were held to account by his fellow apostle, Paul when He called Peter a hypocrite.
Interestingly, not long before Peter’s travels to Antioch, the Lord gave him a vision (Acts 10:9-17). In that vision, Peter saw something that “looked like a big sheet being lowered to the ground and in it were all kinds of animals, reptiles, and birds.” A voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; kill anything here and eat it.” By Jewish customs, a Jew could not eat an animal considered ceremonially unclean. Peter refused to comply with the command saying he had “never eaten anything that is not pure or fit to be used for food”. The voice replied, “God has made these things pure. Don’t say they are unfit to eat.” This command was repeated three times, leaving Peter perplexed about what he had just seen.
We might think, “Peter, don’t you get the hint? God was telling you not to make the law more important than the law-giver. It doesn’t matter what you eat or who you associate with.” Easy for us to say. We fall into that trap too, don’t we? When we allow the world’s standards to influence our opinions, we are no different than Peter. We live in a fallen world where we are easily influenced by its standards. But that does not mean we do not have a choice to choose what is right. Let’s make the choice to not merely “pretend” to love others. Let’s make it our habit to really love them.
“Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (Romans 12:9-10)