The book of Galatians was written in the heat of controversy. There were some who were trying to coerce Christians to be circumcised and to observe various aspects of the Jewish law. Paul saw this as a threat to the very nature of the gospel (Galatians 1:6-9) and said “to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you” (Galatians 2:5). The math of these Judaizing teachers was bad. They were attempting to force belief + baptism + circumcision = salvation. This was a critical matter that could have threatened the life and health of the body of Christ! But even then, Paul kept Jesus preeminent. No matter what the circumstance, there is an amazing Christ-centeredness in Paul that is well worth our contemplation. Here are three questions to think about from Galatians 6:11-18.
Am I Christ-Centered When Persecuted and Hurt? (vs. 12 and 17). When we go through times of intense, unpleasant controversy and suffering, when things get both personal and hurtful, does Jesus shine in us? You can tell a lot about a person by what and how they suffer! (John 16:33; 1 Peter 4:12-19). Paul was willing to suffer for the cross of Christ. He gladly bore the “marks” of Jesus. Will we? How wonderful it would be, if when we as Christians faced pain and persecution, it was our finest hour in showing love and faithfulness to Christ! (2 Timothy 4:1-8).
Am I Christ-Centered When Boasting or Glorying? (vs. 14). To Paul, there simply were no personal grounds for boasting or pride; there only was legitimate reason for glorying in Christ and His cross (See Philippians 3:1-11). Sadly, we often struggle here. Pride, one-upmanship and competition can exist in the church. We can boast of personal accomplishments, abilities, opportunities and possessions – but fail to exult enough in what God has done through Jesus (See John 15:4-5; 2 Corinthians 3:5). “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18).
Am I Christ-Centered In Encouraging Others? (vs. 18). Paul was quick to encourage others in requesting that “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.” Life’s circumstances and trials often can be discouraging. By remembering and being strong in grace, we all can become more Christ-centered (2 Thessalonians 2:16; 2 Timothy 2:1; 2 Peter 3:18). Grace ever reminds us of His sufficiency, goodness and mercy. Recipients of God’s rich grace cannot be full of Jesus and ourselves simultaneously! As Christians, we are family – and every family member greatly needs encouragement in the Lord.
Christ-centered hearts and minds make a positive impact in congregations; even more, they help those in the world to see something of the beauty of Jesus. But most important, Christ-centered hearts give love, honor and praise to God. A heart that stays centered on Jesus has a hard time getting lost!