Galatians 6:11-14 KJV (NIV Link Below)
11Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
12As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
13For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
14But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
Where to Boast
Paul begins this section by making his point very clear. He has begun his summation. Today we’d probably say “If you don’t get anything else I’ve written in the entire letter, get this:” and he comes back to the initial reason he had to write the letter. There are some who were claiming that one had to be circumcised, perform an outward display of righteousness, before one could become a Christian, and this was wrong.
Paul begins to wonder what would actually motivate this group to act in such a manner. Clearly it can’t be a genuine devotion to the law because they have neglected so much of it, he reasons. Probably, but not necessarily, Paul has in mind the command to love your neighbor as yourself. Well, Paul concludes, their reasons are entirely focused on themselves. They want to avoid persecution at the hands of certain Jewish groups, on the one hand, and show how much better Christians they are than those who aren’t circumcised, on the other. Further, while they want others to join them, ultimately it’s so they can be fashioned after their image, not God’s image. They want others to have the same prideful spirit along with them, in order to justify their behavior.
So Paul reaches this conclusion: if you are going to have pride in something, it shouldn’t be you, but in Christ crucified for you. The Judaizers, fundamentally, had a wrong orientation, and Paul wanted to reorient the Galatians church back to Christ. His death was not that of a prideful man, but of a God who became man and then died, in all places humbling himself. It is in that cross where we find our glory. Therefore we are not working in order to please the world, because the world is dead to us. Nor are we working to avoid persecution from the world, for we are already dead to the world. Persecution is not just a possibility, it is all but assured.
Ultimately this is about the source of our rescue. The Judaizers argue that you can rescue yourself, but the Gospel of Christ says otherwise. You can’t rescue yourself. Instead you must throw your life on the cross with Christ so that in his death you also die, persecuted and abandoned by the world. It is in dying with Christ, though, that we also rise with Christ. And so, although we have died, we live, and that is something worth boasting about.
What about you? Add your thoughts. Are there some things you do that seem like very good acts, but that you actually do out of a mistaken sense of pride? (i.e. do you give openly so others will know, or in secret to fulfill Christ’s command?) What do you boast in that is keeping you from boasting in the death of Christ, and subsequently your own death? When were you last humbled so that Christ could be glorified in you?