“Word for Today” – Galatians 6 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

April 22, 2009 at 4:45 am Leave a comment

mansion-1Maybe you did this when you were in junior high as well.  During my pre-pubescent years, reputation and status became increasingly important to me and my peers.  This means that we would, often in very awkward and sometimes comical ways, regularly boast to each other concerning achievements and accomplishments which had little or no basis in reality.  I can remember one time when I was fighting with a friend of mine over whose father made more money – mine or his.  After some verbal sparring that began in the $50,000 a year range, our fathers’ respective salaries quickly skyrocketed well into the six and even seven figure stratosphere, well beyond the limits of what we both knew our fathers actually made.  Finally, after several rounds of bickering over paternal salaries, I said to my friend, “Well I live in a mansion!  What do you live in?”  To which my friend replied, “You don’t live in a mansion!  I’ve been over to your house before.”  Apparently, I had gotten so caught up in the heat of the moment that I forgot that my friend knew where I really lived.  So much for my attempt to impress my friend with affluence I didn’t have.

In our reading for today from Galatians 6, Paul warns the Christians at Galatia against some religious folks “who want to make a good impression outwardly and are trying to compel you to be circumcised” (verse 12).  The Greek word for “make a good impression” is euprosopeo, meaning literally “to give a good face.”  These religious folks, it seems, were trying to “save face,” as it were, among their Jewish colleagues for whom circumcision was a mandatory rite, meant to mark one off as a person of God.  They feared persecution from these Jews (cf. verse 12) and so tried to compel as many Galatian Christians as possible to become circumcised.  Whatever success they had, they then quickly boasted about in an attempt to further galvanize their Jewish friends.

Paul, however, is not impressed by these religious folks’ attempt to bolster their status and reputation among the Jews by boasting in the number of circumcisions they can claim.  May I never boast,” Paul exclaims, “except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 14).  Paul feels no need to try to euprosopeo with anyone.  He will not boast in how much money his father makes.  And he will not boast in how many people he has circumcised.  Instead, he boasts in Christ and Christ alone.

It is all too easy, whether in puberty or as an adult, to seek to impress others by our affluence, accolades, and accomplishments.  But in the end, all of these supposedly “boast-worthy” resume-builders are worthless.  As Paul says concerning circumcision, “Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything” (verse 15).  For “what is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight” (Luke 16:15).  As Christians, we are called to boast not in what we do, but in a bloodied, bruised, and beaten Savior, so seemingly unimpressive and even appalling to the world, yet precious to God.  Indeed, Jesus’ work on the cross is altogether salvific and sanctifying.

So today, when you’re tempted to boast in yourself, no matter how little or how slyly, instead, lift high the cross of Christ.  After all, in the eternal scheme of things, Christ’s work is much more impressive than any work we could ever hope to do.  So if we’re going to boast in something, we might as well boast in something really good.  We might as well boast in the best.  And so, we boast in Christ.

Entry filed under: Word for Today.

“Word for Today” – Galatians 5 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com “Word for Today” – 1 Timothy 1 – www.concordialutheranchurch.com

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