Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.
2 Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
3 For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.
4 But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.
5 For every man shall bear his own burden.
6 Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.
7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.
9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
12 As 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.
13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
14 But 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.
15 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.
16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.
17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
18 Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.
After Paul wraps up his discussion of love as an outworking of walking in the Spirit, he returns to the issue of Jewish Christians trying to subject others to circumcision. He focuses on their motivations, contrasting them with his claim to boast only about what Christ has done for him.
Paul asserts that the troublemakers were concerned about appearances. They wanted to look good in front of others and avoid being persecuted for their faith in Christ. What’s more, they didn’t really keep the law themselves. Rather, they boasted about their ability to convince others to get circumcised.
These same motivations are often tempting for Christians today. How often do you make choices that are designed to make you look good in front of others? How often do you try to blend in with everyone else to minimize any ridicule associated with being a Christian? How often do you work zealously for Christ, hoping that your own sins will be hidden behind your outward success?
I invite you to examine what motivates your own behavior and determine with Paul that you will only boast in what Christ has done for you as you continue to be transformed by the Spirit.
Head of Avondale Seminary, Avondale University, Cooranbong, NSW, Australia