TO CHEW ON: "For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love." Galatians 5:6
Paul states his position about the need for circumcision. He says it doesn't "avail" anything.
Different Bible translations use different words for "avail": "… neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything" (AMP); "… means anything" (NASB); "… has any value" (NIV); "…amounts to anything" (MSG); "… there is no benefit" (NLT).
[Ischyo is the Greek word translated "avail." It means to be strong in body, robust, in sound health; to have power, be a force, avail, be serviceable, able.]
What does avail? It's "… faith working through love." That sounds wonderful and simple, though also somewhat ethereal. What does "faith working through love" look like in real life? Other places in the Bible help fill in the picture.
- This love is a fruit of the Spirit - Galatians 5:22.
- It grows in us as we make a home for Christ in our hearts and He reveals to us the extent of His love for us - Ephesians 3:17-19.
- It is demonstrated through the body-like workings of the church - Ephesians 4:16.
- As individuals "faith working through love" looks like:
- Obedience: "But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfect in him. But this we know that we are in Him" - 1 John 2:5.
- Love for our brothers and sisters: "He who loves his brother abides in the light and there is no cause for stumbling in him" - 1 John 2:10.
- Avoiding the things that are against what the Father stands for: "Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him" - 1 John 2:15. "World" is defined in the next verse as the "lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, pride of life" - 1 John 2:16.
The Message translation of this passage is so clear: "Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father" - 1 John 2:15,16 MSG (emphasis added). (See also 1Timothy 6:9-11.)
Wow! We might second what I can just hear the Galatians say when they understand the extent of what "faith working through love" means—Circumcision was a lot easier! But thank God they weren't, and we aren't, alone in this. For it's all Him working both the faith and the love in us and through us.
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I need this force of faith working through love strengthened in my life. Thank You for living in my heart through Your Spirit and broadening my practical understanding of that what truly avails (counts, means something, has value, amounts to something, benefits). Amen.
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