See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand! Those who want to make a good impression outwardly are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. Not even those who are circumcised obey the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your flesh. May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is a new creation. Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God. Finally, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. (Gal 6:11-18 NIV)
As an aside, you may remember when we discussed Paul’s eyes as a possible source of illness. It was his illness that helped him grow closer to the Galatians who would have torn out their own eyes and given them to him had it been feasible. Some people point to the phrase in our passage this morning, “See what large letters I use” as proof Paul had an eye disease.
I personally believe Paul had an eye disease, but I don’t think that has anything to do with the large letters. I think they are for emphasis as he repeats his main message:
“Don’t do it!”
Paul’s entire letter has been about the pressure Judaizers were putting on redeemed believers to be circumcised for righteousness sake. Circumcision was, after all, the sign of the Old Testament covenant and a commandment of God. But when Christ came, He paid the price of sin, fulfilled the Law, and made it possible for everyone everywhere to become a child of Abraham and recipient of the promise.
The promise was and still is all about the cross on which Christ died. Paul suggests the reason some people were giving in to legalism and demanding circumcision was to avoid criticism and persecution. The cross was offensive because it displayed the sins of the world for all to see, and circumcision was seen as a solution to the offense since those accepting it proclaimed self-righteousness.
But the self-righteous were not right. Those who looked to a righteous act as the source of their salvation were still in their sins.
It is amazing how one religious rite could stir up so much trouble. Yet, it is indicative of anything that diminished the place of the cross.
We are saved by grace, through faith. It is from God, lest any of us should boast. Boasters have a habit of pointing out the things they have done as proof of their goodness. Followers of Jesus boast only in the cross. I don’t know about you, but I would rather be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, than my own.
Dear God, thank You for making me righteous. In Jesus’ name, Amen.