March 23, 2017 – Thursday
Read: Galatians 6:11-17
Focus: vs. 14
“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation.”
I’ve always been athletic, but not as athletic as others. I remember in my elementary school years we were given awards for achieving certain athletic goals in our physical education class. We would run the 50 yard dash and count how many sit-ups we could do in 60 seconds and there were several other areas to compete in. The top prize was the Presidential Physical Fitness Award. It sounded so grand that I wanted it more than anything. The goals were designed so that you were competing against yourself but all of us more competitive kids knew that we were competing with each other as well. I kept coming up just short of the Presidential Award and had to settle for the second prize until my last year when I barely made enough sit-ups to get the big prize. It was a dark blue patch with a golden eagle that said, “Presidential Physical Fitness Award” and I might as well have received it from Ronald Reagan himself! That patch probably still exists somewhere in my memories and belongings but I couldn’t tell you where. The truth is, I wasn’t a bad athlete but I was never the best. Physical fitness is not an area I could ever really boast about and even less so now. There were some kids who had no problem getting that wonderful award every year and were naturally faster and more fit than I was but I don’t remember them ever boasting about how good they were.
Our passage in Galatians is dealing with boasting. There are those who are always trying to impress the people around them. In fact, I think we can all admit that we sometimes give into the temptation to puff ourselves up by sharing our accomplishments or talents. In Paul’s day there were those who wanted to boast about how holy they were because of how great their religion looked on the outside. Circumcision was the main issue and there was a group referred to as Judaizers who believed new Christians should follow all the old Mosaic laws as well. This included circumcision and Paul drew the line there. His desire was that new Christians shouldn’t have all the old laws put on them. The New Covenant with Jesus was about grace, not legalistic religion. So the Judaizers wanted to boast about what was on the outside but Paul wanted to boast about what was on the inside. And what was on the inside? It was the Cross of Jesus.
“What counts,” Paul says, “is the new creation.” It comes through the Cross of Jesus. Paul offers us a really interesting concept in verse 14 when he says it is the cross “through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Jesus changes us on the inside because that’s where it really matters. The outside is likely to change soon enough but it will never be real unless the inside is changed first. We are new creations in Christ. Paul loves this concept and talks about it often. When he speaks about the world being crucified (and he to the world), he is referencing the death of Christ to show that his old worldly self has died and what’s left is the new self, resurrected with Jesus to life. That’s quite an achievement but not for Paul. All this is because of the Cross of Jesus. God did it, not me. What do you boast about in your life? Consider what Jesus has done on that Cross for you.