“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that counts is faith working through love.” (Galatians 5:6 NRSV)
I have had pride over some of my accomplishments in the past. I was in the first graduating class from the newest state college in Michigan at the time. I completed a Masters of Divinity Degree and served a congregation in upstate New York for nineteen years. I served in the United States Army during the Vietnam War. I am a published author.
It is quite natural to feel successful because of these accomplishments, but in terms of my relationship with God, these are not the things that matter. The Apostle Paul in writing to the believers in Galatia was pointing out that pride in religious observances was not what counted under the terms and conditions of the Gospel. The Gospel had come to them in simple terms (love one another) and conditions (faith in Christ’s victory over sin).
I was struck by the utter simplicity of Paul’s words this morning. The only thing that counts with God is faith working through love: His love for me and my love for others. And I note that His love for me was not based on my love and obedience to His will. Similarly, my love for others can not be based on their love and doing what I want them to do. Faith is the vital ingredient.
The picture of living in faith through love to me is like someone who orients his sails so his vessel moves forward at maximum speed. The movement comes from the wind and not human propulsion.