Journal Entry // August 19, 2022
And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. (ESV)Galatians 2:13
It is vital that our convictions line up with our actions and that they do not falter and waffle depending on who is in our immediate presence or whoever we may be trying to impress. Paul confronts Peter for his hypocrisy with this same line of reasoning. Peter knew there was freedom in Christ and exercised this freedom as he associated and had fellowship with Gentiles. Peter’s conviction was that there is freedom in Christ, but when a certain group of men arrived, Peter withdrew from associating with Gentiles. Instead of standing firm in his convictions and exercising his freedom in Christ, he bowed to social pressure and compromised the truth of the gospel. He set his convictions aside to please the important and influential to the detriment of the gospel. Even to the point where not only did the other believers see his actions and take note, but the leadership that look to Peter was then led astray by his actions. Peter’s lack of commitment to his gospel convictions caused him to not only fall into sin, but then also led many others to reproduce this error in their life as well.
This section of Galatians is challenging on many different levels and I usually focus more on Paul being faithful to his convictions and not letting Peter continue in his sin of hypocrisy. This morning, I was drawn to the life of Peter in this moment. Peter obviously knew the truth of the freedom we have in Christ and exercised this freedom by engaging with Gentiles on a regular basis. When life was easy and simple, Peter let his convictions lead him. When life became more complicated, he faltered and turned away from his convictions to take the path of least resistance leading him toward hypocrisy. This is obviously a struggle at some level in every person’s life. We all stand on the edge of hypocrisy every day. We are tempted and challenged to compromise our beliefs and the truths of the gospel for the sake of expediency or material comfort. We are tempted to compromise our beliefs and convictions to impress the influential. We ignore or twist our beliefs to make situations or relationships more simple and comfortable. Basically, we turn to hypocrisy whenever we have an opportunity to meet a challenge to our convictions. We are tempted to leave the narrow path of faithfulness to God’s Word and join with the crowds on the wide path of acceptance.
This is part of what Jesus is warning us about when he tells us that we must take up our cross daily and follow him. The life he lived before us was a life filled with staying true to his convictions and beliefs no matter the cost. People were drawn to Jesus because of his miracles and compassion. People left him when they saw that he was only ever going to do the will of God and did not compromise on following the Father and did not deviate from the path laid before him. Am I ready for this same steadfastness in my life? Am I willing to stand firm in my convictions to the revealed word of God in my heart? Am I willing to suffer shame and humiliation? Am I willing to be discounted and marginalized? Am I willing to be forgotten?
That’s the heart of the matter isn’t it? This is the most important question I can ask myself. Am I willing to give everything to Jesus? As Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” This is the heart of my daily walk with Christ. Each and every morning I must choose to follow Christ. It is not a matter of consistency or habit. When it becomes habitual, I can too easily slip into hypocrisy. Each and every morning I must choose to follow Christ. I must choose humility. I must choose faithfulness. I must choose the path laid out before me. I must choose to simply serve my gracious Father and Redeemer. I must see my actions and deeds flow from the heart of Christ in me. I must be strong and courageous in the Lord.