Gal. 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.
Freedom in Christ was such a new concept to those who had been under the law. This freedom and movement of the Holy Spirit meant that those who had never been under the law (Gentiles) were coming to faith but what was that faith supposed to like? Surely they would need to follow all of the rules, wouldn’t they? But as Paul began to unpack what it meant to be free in Christ suddenly Christ himself became the defining factor. All things were to be weighed in relationship to Christ and when this became the standard then legalism began to drop away. Legalism will get us nowhere because it isn’t relational.
We are called to be in a face to face relationship with our dear Savior Jesus Christ. When we are face to face, and nose to nose with him, we become driven by him and by our personal desire to be with him and to be like him. Our faith draws us into a deeper relationship with Christ in which we take on his characteristics and his nature — holy love. It always seems to come back to that, doesn’t it? What really counts is Christ in us and pouring out his holy love through us. Leave the legalism behind and fall desperately in love with Jesus Christ!
Throughout my life I’ve been challenged by the vision of Mary v. Martha. I know that’s not today’s scripture but hang in there with me — I'll get to it. We’ve always been presented with Mary who was deeply spiritual and hung around with Jesus and wanted to just soak in his love and Martha who was busy and wanted to get things done! Jesus takes Martha aside and presents to her this very same truth that we hear from Paul today. What really counts Martha? Does it matter that the floors are absolutely spotless? Does it matter that you have the fanciest cookies in town? Does it matter that your children are the best dressed? When you die and stand before God do you really think he’s going to ask you to give an accounting of how well the dinner parties went? Our how nice your cars are? Or whether you pulled off that deal at work?
Martha is confronted with that question of what really counts! Have you ever noticed that after that incident, whenever we encounter Martha, she’s right there next to Jesus? She discovered that what really counted was her personal walk with Jesus Christ, her relationship to him mattered more than all the stuff that could be done.
That’s what Paul was saying to the Galatians and he’s saying the same thing to you and to me today. Maybe we need to step back and examine our lives in relation to Christ. Faith working through love is what counts and that will result in reaching out and touching those around me with Jesus’ love. What I have and the legalism I may practice is really only done for me. When I stand before Christ and allow his reflection to be seen in me then his holy love reaches out through me to a needy world. This is what counts, “faith working through love.”
Lord, please let me be engaged in the things that count. Amen.