What Really Counts

The second half of Galatians 5:6 really sums up what being a Christian should be all about:

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. – Galatians 5:6b (NIV)

Paul was arguing against justification by rule-following.  As we have seen throughout the letter to the Galatians, it is impossible for someone to be forgiven by following rules.  This is one of the hallmarks of true Christianity.  Every other religion on earth is about following rules.  Do these things and you’ll have eternal life or nirvana or enlightenment.  Avoid these things and you’ll have inner peace.  True Christianity says that there is nothing you can do that will save you.  We are saved by grace through faith.  Period.
What does faith entail?  Love.  Loving God and loving others.  This passage reminds me of 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (NLT):

If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Faith that moves mountains without love means nothing, Paul says.  James says that faith without works or deeds is dead.  The works and deeds of love we do that are fueled by our faith are what really count.  Why do you do acts of kindness?  What do you do deeds of love?  It is because of our faith in Christ.  It is because of what He did for us.  We love God and others because we were first loved by God.
Followers of Christ must be intentional about love.  We cannot sit back and say, “I have faith and that’s enough.”  What is your faith motivating you to do for Jesus?  You are saved by God’s grace through faith in Jesus.  How do you know that you have true faith?  By your love.

Galatians 5:1-6 (NIV)

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised,Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. For through the Spirit we eagerly await by faith the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.


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