What counts is faith expressed through love (Galatians 5:6)
Galatians 5:6 “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
The context of Galatians 5, specifically in relation to the first 6 verses is firstly the “goal of the gospel.” Christ’s redemptive work set us free in order that we might be free. Bondage is the opposite of freedom and since the Law produces bondage, living under it is inconsistent with the gospel. In fact, let us read the first 6 verses:
“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love.”
The Judaizers had been busily working among the Gentile Galatian churches. In the early church, those who taught a combination of God’s grace and human effort were called “Judaizers.” A Judaizer taught that, in order for a Christian to truly be right with God, he must conform to the Mosaic Law. Circumcision was especially promoted as being necessary for salvation. Gentiles had to become Jewish proselytes first, and then come to Christ. The doctrine of the Judaizers was a mixture of grace (through Christ) and works (through keeping the Law). This false doctrine was dealt with in Acts 15 and strongly condemned in this book of the Galatians.
The faith of a true believer is manifested through love. The characteristics by which we know God’s people are the “fruit of the Spirit (Galatian 5:22),” beginning with love.
Out of 66 books, 1188 chapters, and 31,175 verses in the Bible, it all boils down to this – the only thing that counts is faith working through love (Galatians 5:6).
Take a moment to meditate on these words and understand what is being said. Ultimately it comes down to how we express our faith. If we are not expressing our faith in God through our love for others, nothing else we do really matter. Whatever outwardly religious acts you do, means nothing unless it is done out of a genuine heart of love towards God and others.
This is really a summation of Jesus’ response to the question in Mark 12:28-31, “And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Quite simply, love God, and express that love to your neighbour. It is that simple. James 1:22 emphasizes this saying, “But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”
The expression of this love can take many forms: kindness, respect, appreciation, involvement, time commitment, sharing, patience, giving, caring, or friendship. Whatever your job may be, you are an integral part of the body of Christ. Imagine the number of lives, you will be able to impact and bring glory to God, if you went about your day expressing your faith through love?
So, let us free ourselves from religious activities, which on its own are of no value. Rather let “faith” be the starting point. Have faith in God the Father through Jesus the Son, revealed by the Holy Spirit. Have faith that God lives in you and through you. Have faith that God is always with you, in all circumstances and that He answers prayers that are in alignment with His sovereign wisdom.
So, if faith is the starting point, then love expressed is the outcome. The kind of love that is required is explained in 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
1 Corinthians 13 ends with the explanation of love with these words in v13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
So, it starts with faith and ends with love. Hope connects the two.
In conclusion, do not be tied to religious outwardly acts any longer, for Christ has freed you from this. Rather, express your faith through love to others. It is the only thing that counts.