I hope your mid-week is finding you well! Mine is busy with family things, since my little sister, Jennifer, is in town for a week before she heads to San Francisco for the summer! She is an opera singer and has a gig (yes, I just said “gig”) out there all summer. Prayers for her would be greatly appreciated!
Anyways, on to Galatians 2:6-10…
6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
This is a continuation of Paul’s argument/defense that he preached the correct gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul presented the gospel that he proclaims among the Gentiles to those who seemed influential (2:2) and he tells us that “they added nothing” to it (2:6), thereby confirming its validity. He then gives the reasons that they accepted him and “his” gospel:
- they saw that he had been entrusted with the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the Jews (“the circumcision”)
- they perceived the grace that had been given to him
I love this: Paul’s validity had NOTHING to do with him, in and of himself! The two reasons noted as to why they extended the right hand of fellowship are complete and unmistakable works of God. GOD called him and entrusted him with the gospel to the Gentiles and GOD gave more and more perceivable grace to his soul. It doesn’t say, “and James perceived that Paul was a talented speaker” or “Cephas knew of Paul’s background as a Pharisee and knew he was a qualified religious man, learned in the Scriptures” or “when they saw Paul’s written, detailed, and organized plan to reach the Gentile world” or “when they saw that he hadn’t done much sinning for the last fourteen years…” No. Praise the Lord, no.
Your calling has nothing to do with you. God has called you and entrusted you with His purpose for your life and He will give you grace upon grace upon grace to complete it.
Can I ask you something? How do you think James, Peter, and John “perceived the grace that was given” to Paul? Think about it. Have you ever encountered someone who you didn’t know and thought, “I bet that person is a Christian.”? I have. Can I suggest to you that every syllable that Paul spoke was drenched in humility and gratitude? And that every movement of his body spoke submission, yet strength? And that every facial expression he made silently proclaimed, “I was lost, but now I’m found!”?
It makes me wonder if people “perceive the grace that is given” to me, daily. When I am driving in my car, does the person driving on the highway next to me perceive that I am a wretched sinner who was bathed in grace, mercy, and love, earlier that day as I spent time with my Redeemer? When a person asks me to serve them in some way, do they perceive by my response that just that day the Savior served me with abundant grace to cover a multitude of sins? Does grace or condemnation fall on people as I speak to them? Does dignity or shame seep into people’s pores as my eyes look on them? Is my tone harsh and demeaning–a tone my Lord never takes with me? Are my words cruel, mean, or even just indifferent–again, things that never cross my Beloved’s lips. Am I proud and think myself better than others–an attitude diametrically opposed to the Son of God, who though he was in the form of God made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men (Philippians 2:6-7).
This much I know: we will not wholeheartedly give grace until the grace that has been freely offered to us has been received by us. One of the most life-changing verses that I speak over myself every day is James 4:6a, “But He gives more grace…” So simple. It’s the Gospel. Preach it to yourself every day.