GALATIANS 6 v. 11 – 14
‘See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh 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 keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the 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.’
Whether Paul emphasises the ‘large letters’ with which he writes to indicate the strength of his message (no highlighter pens in those days), or that he may have had eyesight problems (his ‘thorn in the flesh’?), he is keen to underline the fact that some will recognise his handwriting – this is a personal message.
As this letter draws to a close, he reminds his readers / hearers that those who are forcing circumcision as a necessary step are truly leading the church astray, away from the cross and the grace of Christ.
Paul has more to boast about than most others – he lists his credentials elsewhere – great upbringing, learning his Judaism from the very best minds, becoming one of the key leaders, yet now he can’t boast in any of this – he will boast only in the cross of Jesus, through which the old life (or personal endeavour and achievement, especially in the spiritual realm) is dead and buried, and a new life, a new creation emerges, vibrant and free.
I will not boast in anything
no gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection
Why should I gain from His reward
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom. (Stuart Townend, ‘How deep the Father’s love’)
Teach me, like you taught Paul,
O Lord Jesus,
to ‘regard everything as loss
because of the surpassing value
of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.
I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ’ (St. Paul, writing in his letter to the Philippians).
What does ‘boasting in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ’ look like for you.
How can you lean more into that today, than into allowing self or others to glory in who you are and what you do?
How can you point others to the cross today, as your means of gaining hope, resurrection, new life? (Maybe begin to pray about who you might be nudged to give a palm cross to, when we’re giving them out in a matter of a few weeks…).