Today’s reading begins with seven of the most incredible words ever written. “For freedom Christ has set us free” (Galatians 5:1). This statement should be written on Post-It notes on our mirrors, framed in fancy calligraphy on our walls and indelibly marked in our minds. So often we forget why Jesus died on our behalf. We can so easily fall into rules and regulations, rather than resting and reveling in the joy that should accompany our freedom. Jesus came to liberate us from our human tendency towards limitation and a false sense of being in control.
In our passage today, Paul refers to a rather scandalous controversy of the time as a way of making a broader point about the freedom we have in Christ. Prior to the arrival of Jesus, every Jewish man had to be circumcised as a symbol of the covenant between God and the people of Israel. The Jewish culture took great pride in this unique (at the time) ritual and viewed it as one of the things that made them special. When Jesus died He introduced the concept of salvation by grace through faith alone. This placed Jews and all other ethnicities on a level playing field before God. Many of the followers of Jesus were not a part of the Jewish tradition and were therefore not circumcised. Some religious leaders wanted to maintain the importance and distinction of the Jewish laws. Paul however, wanted to make crystal clear, that there was no room in the gospel for anything that would be placed as a requirement for salvation, other than faith in Jesus.
Is there any kind of religious ritual, rule or practice that you engage in as a means of earning approval or favor from God? I once heard a preacher say, “There is nothing you can do to make God love you more, and there is nothing you can do to make God love you less.” As you read today, ask Jesus to help you see any area in your life where you do not depend entirely on faith for your freedom.
Are there any areas in your life where you are trying to earn God's approval?
Declare over yourself today that you are set free by faith in Jesus Christ alone.