Galatians 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
This principle is so simple and yet is so overlooked so much of the time. Not many people trouble themselves with the issue of circumcision these days (except the San Francisco city government that tried to outlaw it not long ago, but that’s another story) but this applies to all sorts of external “acts of righteousness.” For example, I’m a strong believer in tithing, but there’s no way you could tithe your way into heaven. I’ve known churches that have run people off over this issue! If the love is there, for God and for your neighbor, then you will want to give generously, but you can’t get the cart before the horse. What we do is important, but why we do it is even more important. We are saved by grace through faith, period. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Indeed, faith that doesn’t work is dead, (James 2:17) but those works are no substitute for faith. Even there, as Paul so famously expressed in 1 Corinthians 13, the underlying motive must be love, or it is all for nothing.
I believe this was truly my parents’ operating principle, and that was and is a huge blessing. So few people, actually, are raised in such an environment. However, the moment I start getting proud of my background I am personally abandoning this principle, because pride is antithetical to love. Jesus was not speaking casually when He said that the first commandment (or Prime Directive, if you want to think in the terms used by some popular fiction) is to love God with all you have and are, and the second is to love your neighbor as you love yourself. (Matthew 22:37-40) You cannot love God without believing He is, so there you have it. The secret to living right is simply to fall more and more in love with God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. If we will do that, our actions and our attitudes will fall into place, and we will have the immense joy and satisfaction of fulfilling the purpose for which we were created.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Help me express this principle more and more effectively to others. I have a tendency to give too much information, to make things too complicated. Help me get back to basics, not being distracted by all the peripheral stuff, so that Your Spirit may take Your Word through me to set people free, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!