“As many as desire to make a fair show in the flesh, they constrain you…that they may glory in your flesh.” (Galatians 6:12-13)
These two verses raise the hair on the back of my neck every time I read them. The idea that there are people who would urge their own interpretation of spirituality on others as a means of using them as a “showpiece” for themselves smacks of down right hypocrisy to me. In this instance, Jewish believers were encouraging their Gentile brothers in Christ to be circumcised in order to show that their converts had “gone all the way for God.” As Paul says in verse fifteen, circumcision was an incidental that not only had nothing to do with whether or not you were a Christian, it had nothing to do with whether or not you were a good Christian.
What it boils down to is this, I think: Things that make us look good as a Christian, may in the final analysis, be just for looks. It’s bad enough for you and I to base our code of conduct on artificial standards, but to find out that we’ve done it to make someone else look good, is just plain humiliating. There are plenty of good reasons for Biblical separation, and enough in the Bible to tell us just what those reasons are. To add personal preferences to these only serves to water down the legitimate ones.
Paul disparages the whole idea of glorying in one another when he says in verse fourteen, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
So be good for goodness’ sake…and for God’s sake…but nobody else’s.