Faith Working through Love

Galatians 5:6

In his letter to the churches of Galatia, Paul addressed the problem of Jewish Christians wanting to return to or retain parts of the Law of Moses. If one attempted to do this and be “justified by law,” he would have “fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

There are not many Christians today who are trying to go back to the Law of Moses as there were in the first century (at least not as overtly as the early Jewish Christians were). Yet this was the first major controversy among the early disciples. Much of the focus in this controversy had to do with circumcision. Circumcision was the sign of God’s covenant with Abraham (Genesis 17:10-12) and was a commandment under the Law of Moses (Leviticus 12:2-3); however, it was not required for Christians under the law of Christ (Acts 15:1-11; Galatians 2:3-5). So in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he explained that there was something more important than whether or not one was circumcised.

For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love” (Galatians 5:6).

What mattered for these brethren was “faith working through love.” Let us briefly break down what Paul meant by this.

  • Faith – Faith is a belief in the existence of God and a trust in Him to fulfill His promises. The Hebrew writer explained, “And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). The source of faith is the word that God has revealed: “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Paul told the church in Corinth that we are to “walk by faith” (2 Corinthians 5:7). To have faith is to live our lives based upon the assurance that God created us, will reward us, and has given us His word to guide us in this life.
  • Working – While there is some controversy in the religious world over “works,” the New Testament is clear that doing good works is an essential part of our faith. James explained that “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). That is why he wrote, “You see that a man is justified by works and not by faith alone” (James 2:24). The Lord expects His people to be “zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14) and “always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
  • Love – It is possible for one to believe in the existence of God and do what is right simply out of compulsion, but that is not what God desires of us. He wants everything we do to be “done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14). Paul said if he did “not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2). The greatest command is to “love the Lord” with all of our heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:36-38). This naturally leads us to love others (Matthew 22:39; 1 John 4:7, 11) and to “keep His commandments” (1 John 5:3).

If they had “faith working through love,” it did not matter if they were circumcised or not. Regardless of whether they were circumcised or uncircumcised, if they did not have “faith working through love” they could not please the Lord.

The same is true for us today. Let us determine to walk by faith, be engaged in doing the works God has given us, and do all things in love.

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