Suffering for Christ, or for Self?

Galatians 6:11-18 (ESV)

See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.

We do not know specifically, or for certain, why Paul chose to close this letter this way. Perhaps there were rumors that he was dead and these letters were not actually from him. Another possibility is that he was specifically telling the Church in Galatia that it was he who wrote this letter, himself, and not a scribe or amanuensis. Adam Clarke in his commentary states that perhaps this is the longest letter written by Paul’s own hand.

The marks the apostle has on his body may have been the Stigmata, or they may have been from stoning, beating, etc. Regardless, they were certainly due to persecution because of his faith in Jesus.

His point is that those who would boast in the flesh (whether or not they have been circumcised) or more poignantly in this case, how many others they have gotten to become circumcised, are doing it so that they would not be persecuted for the Cross of Christ.

Those who make waves—do things out of the ordinary—are generally persecuted by those who want people to stay the same, live life like everyone else. But we are called to radically change our world. We are called to live the way Jesus did; Loving everyone, doing good when and where we can. The difference is that we are not doing good for our own glory, but that Christ may receive the glory.

So to close, let us look for opportunities to serve others. Let us not worry about any recognition or accolades. Our goal is Christ, and to proclaim Him, leading others to Him. We are to make disciples–one who studies under us, that we mentor, teaching them all about Jesus.

by Virgil Stripes

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