What you brag about says a lot about you.
Bragging is something we don’t normally associate with church talk. For some, you’ve been taught its impolite to brag. In the final passage of Scripture in Paul’s letter to the Galatians we see bragging in a good light. How can that be? As with most anything in life – context is key. There are times when bragging or boasting is appropriate. For example, when you kids accomplish a particularly hard goal in life – you lift them up and share it with others. We tell others about our spouse or good friend who has seen us through a difficult time in life; we want others to know what they’ve done for us! When we wrap up that project at work and it goes off without a hitch – that’s worth celebrating with others. These are boasting, bragging or the word Paul uses in the bible glorying in something good. It’s good and fitting to lift, draw attention to and otherwise boast in the good in life. Contrast the good in life with the ugly and you have some who brag about how they can drink to access and still drive; their sexual escapades with multiple partners or even how they get away with cutting corners at work; these are examples when it is in appropriate to brag, boast or elevate with praise. Again, context is key. It is important to remember, what you brag about says a lot about you.
What do you talk up, brag about or glory in?
Galatians 6: 11-18 – the closing comments on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians.
In verse 11, getting personal, Paul himself is picking up the pen to write. It was customary for Paul and others to use a scribe or secretary to write their letters. Some believe as a result of his beatings and stoning that Paul had impaired eyesight; however, the fact remains that he personally took ink to parchment to write to the Galatians making this closing incredibly personal.
In verses 12 through 16 Paul draws a distinction in what he will boast about and what the false teachers who have made in-roads in Galatia will boast about. They (false teachers) desire to make a good showing with men more than with God. They compel the Galatians to be circumcised so that they (the false teachers) will not experience persecution for the cross of Christ.
The cross of Christ forms the watershed moment of redemption for mankind. It is at the cross that the payment for the penalty of sin was satisfied. On the cross Jesus cried out “it is finished!” There is nothing left to do for a person to be made right with God other than believe in the finished work of Jesus. The cross leads away from religion and man’s efforts to justify himself before God and into freedom in Christ.
The false teachers would seek to make a name for themselves through the Galatian believer – swaying them back under the law and essentially back under bondage. Again, as mentioned earlier in Galatians chapter 6, God is not mocked – you may fool other people in church by your participation in rituals and good deeds; however, if you’re not resting in the work of Christ alone – you have nothing. God knows the heart of people and whether you’re trusting in salvation by grace and through faith alone or in one’s own efforts mingled with Jesus.
What you brag about says a lot about you.
In verse 14 Paul writes, he will boast, brag or glory in nothing except 1 thing:
The Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul emphasizes the cross because it is there the business of reconciliation with God the Father took place through Jesus Christ the Lord – full title recognizing both His divinity and authority in all things.
It is through the cross of Jesus that Paul makes clear world has been crucified to him and he to the world. This profound statement echoes what he earlier wrote, “I am crucified with Christ, I no longer live, but Christ lives in me, and the life I live, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who delivered Himself up for me.” Galatians 2: 20. Paul’s point – this world is dead to me and I am dead to it. This world has no hold on him or power over him. He doesn’t say the world is dead or of no value – just that it doesn’t have power over him. These thoughts are reflected in Paul’s letter to the Romans in chapter 6, dead to sin and therefore no longer slaves to it – we are free in Christ! Chapter 5 and the admonition to make wise choices between the works of the flesh and the fruit of the Spirit also find parallel in Romans 6 and the call to no longer give our lives up to follow after sin. With freedom come choice; choose to follow Jesus.
At the end of the day circumcision isn’t the heart of the matter – truth is Christians are a new creation in Christ! There is hope for everyone in the world with this message! Paul is teaching them not to accept anything that degrades the glorious gospel of grace into a methodology or program of behavior management and religion as a means to justify one’s self before God.
Paul writes for them to live by this rule or way of life – grace. In this walk, they will find themselves greatly blessed.
This week: Read back through the Letter to the Galatians. Am I in legalized relationships? Meaning, am I in relationships based on my behavior and not love.
1. Do I legalize my relationship with God? Do I feel His love based on my performance? If I miss church, fail to get baptized, neglect giving to the church do I feel as though I am no longer accepted by God?
2. Do I legalize my relationships with those I love? Do others feel I only love them based on their performance in my life? If someone fails to meet my expectations and they no longer are accepted by me.
3. If you believe you are in a legalized relationship (with friend, spouse or parent), talk with them about it. They may not realize they are putting you through hoops to essentially earn and maintain their love. Talk with them about it because you value the relationship.
Finally, Paul writes “let no one cause trouble for me.” The False Teachers undermined Paul’s teaching and the Authority of the Apostles. This may have led to people betraying Paul’s and other’s trust. They were marked men. “I bear the brand marks (stigmata – brand like on cattle) of Jesus.” Paul literally was scarred by torture, beatings and imprisonment for the teaching of the Gospel of Grace. Add to that shipwrecks and the mental pressure and strain – recorded in 2 Corinthians 11: 24-28 and you have a powerful and emotional image at the close of this letter.
“The GRACE of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit , brethren. Amen.”
Grace is everything – if we get this wrong with God it will bleed into our relationships with our loved ones and all we encounter.
Grace is never earned – but given. Go be gracious today.