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Far Be It From Me to Boast Except in the Cross of Our Lord Jesus Christ

26 March • Tuesday of Holy Week


Galatians 6:11-18

11 See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. 12 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. 13 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. 14 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. 15 For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. 16 And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.


17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.


18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen.


Meditation

 

In the text above, Paul evidently takes over the pen from his secretary (or amanuensis) to end his letter to the Galatians, writing in large letters for emphasis. There is little indication that it is due to a problem with his eye, as some might suggest (cf. Galatians 4:12-16).


Paul is seeking to reinforce what he has been saying throughout his letter—that the Galatians should not give in to the demands of those who are asking them to be circumcised. They should continue to trust in the gospel that they have received, which is centred on the cross of Jesus Christ.


Christianity hinges on the love and grace of God in Christ. It is not our own human effort to fulfill God’s standard of righteousness, which is what the Torah essentially is, and what circumcision represents. The Jewish Christians who came to the Galatians to ask them to be circumcised were eager to boast that they got these Gentiles to follow the Torah, and they fear being persecuted by other Jews if that is not the case (v.12). But for Paul, to do so is simply incompatible with the gospel.


Martin Luther, that great sixteenth century Reformer, was an Augustinian monk who subjected himself to strict ascetic practices in order to find peace with God, in view of God’s righteous demands. Nonetheless, he was in deep spiritual despair, until he realised that God’s righteousness was already fulfilled on the cross of Christ. All that he needed to do was to humbly trust in his Saviour.


So, if there is any Christian who thinks that he or she has done much for Christ and deserves a place in the kingdom of God, they should know that it is Christ who has made it possible by dying on the cross for our sin.


Conversely, if anyone is constantly feeling unworthy or defeated because he or she is unable to live up to God’s expectations, they should know that Christ has already made them righteous by dying on the cross as well. That is the reason why Paul says that he would rather boast in the cross of Jesus Christ than in the fleshly fulfilment of the law. It is on the cross of Christ that our sinfulness is fully resolved.


Prayer

 

Dear Lord, thank You very much for dying on the cross to redeem me from the penalty of sin. May You fill my heart with thanksgiving as I live my life as one who has been redeemed by Your blood. I shall boast in what You have graciously and lovingly done for me. Amen.


Action

 

Share with someone, your family member, colleague or friend, how the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ makes a difference in your life.


Rev Dr Leonard Wee

Registrar and New Testament Lecturer

Trinity Theological College

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