Does scripture really say “the only thing that counts?” Yep.
Several months ago, I did a series of posts on the most important principles in Holy Scripture. For example, the greatest commandment, the second greatest commandment, and more. (If you weren’t reading this blog then or would like to review these posts, begin with the post on January 4, 2016, and continue through the post on February 5, 2016.)
But I didn’t include the scripture that has prompted this post. You’d think that scripture saying “the only thing that counts” would be part of scripture’s most important principles. I just missed it and undoubtedly a number of others as well.
In Galatians 5, where Paul writes about the meaning of freedom in Christ, Paul addresses divisions caused by the argument over circumcision. After saying that this argument doesn’t matter and that those who engage in it have fallen from grace, he concludes: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (Galatians 5:6, NIV)
Over the centuries, Christians have argued a lot about the writings of Paul. But Paul was an advocate for unity based on scripture’s important principles–the things that really count. In Galatians 5:15, after chastising circumcision agitators and endorsing the important scriptural principle of loving your neighbor as yourself, he writes: “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.”
When Paul writes about freedom in Christ in Galatians 5, he doesn’t say that anything goes. What he says is, don’t be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. He means the Law of Moses that devolved into countless, often meaningless, rules and regulations.
I don’t think it’s going too far to say that we Christians have tried to transform the law of Christ into contentious rules and regulations. What do you think?
In any event, when we read in scripture that the “only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love,” we should focus on that thing long and hard. Then practice it. Faith in Christ Jesus leads us to love others. That’s a pretty important scriptural principle.