What Really Counts (Galatians 6:14)
But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. —Galatians 6:14
A New Mindset
Galatians 6:14 carries many parallels to current events today. As I write, the news is dominated by the reality of an emerging global Coronavirus pandemic. In just the last few days, stock markets have plummeted, countries have restricted travel, athletic events have been cancelled, and workers and students have been sent home. It is a different kind of reality than we enjoyed only weeks ago and that few of us could have imagined. Who would have dreamed of days when grocery clerks, healthcare workers, and truck drivers would hold higher esteem than movie stars, pro athletes, or hit musical groups? Or days when toilet paper, cold medicine, meat, and bleach vanished from shelves? These new circumstances bring with them drastically different priorities than the former.
The Worldly Scorecard
Similarly, in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, he contrasts the “status quo” of worldly priorities and motivations with the radically changed mindset of those who follow Christ. To fully follow his train of thought, we must begin at verse 11, where Paul seems to shout through his manuscript, “See with what large letter I am writing to you with my own hand” (Galatians 6:11). Next Paul scolds people who are motivated by, and therefore boast in, the things of the world. They boast in worthless priorities like the praise of men, following the law, circumcision, safety, prosperity: “those who want to make a good showing,” “that they may boast in your flesh,” “in order that they may not be persecuted”(Galatians 6:12-13). To Paul, this is the way the world “keeps score” of what is important. These are the priorities that “count” and are therefore to boast about.
Boasting In The Cross
However, Paul counters in Galatians 6:14 that this old way of thinking is worthless to him. The only thing Paul deems worthy of boasting about is “the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 4:16). Those who follow Jesus realize that they can’t boast about earning their way to God with a worldly scorecard because that’s not how they have become reconciled to Him; that’s not how it works. It is all Jesus’ doing. When He died on the cross, Jesus took the punishment that we deserve so that those who trust in Him would be forgiven and reconciled to God forever. So, believers have good reason to boast in Jesus’ work on the cross.
The New Creation With A New Scorecard
Believers also have good reason to boast in how God radically changes them when they believe. Believers experience the ultimate paradigm shift. Here are some things that happen for Christians:
God transforms believers into a new creation when they trust in what Christ Jesus accomplished on the cross.
God infuses believers with his own Spirit and a certain hope: “the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)
God strengthens believers with the power of Christ: “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses so that the power of Christ may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
God meets the needs of those who trust in him: “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19)
By this, believers are so radically changed that they “keep score” or “count” what is important in a much different way: “For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation” (Galatians 6:15). Believers don’t care about the old priorities of the world; that is why Paul can say that “the world has been crucified to me and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14). Old desires, passions, and attractions are meaningless to the believer: “those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires” (Galatians 5:24).
What Really Counts
If there can be any shred of good in a global pandemic, perhaps it is the opportunity it gives all of us to see with clarity the things that we were depending on for affirmation and support. In these volatile modern times, we can take this to heart—what counts is not the stock market, how much toilet paper and dry goods are stored away for crisis, our social media status, our retirement savings, or even our health. What counts is being a new creation, transformed by the work of Christ on the cross.
What can you boast in today? What have you been using to “keep score” and take pride in? Are these things of the world or the cross of Christ?
These changing times are no surprise for God. Are you trusting in God now and His promises? Can you identify any good that God may bring in these new circumstances? How has God was worked for your good in past difficulties?
These times are uncertain for humans but not for God. What habits can you develop to help you trust in God more? Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Read God’s Word regularly. Find a reading plan that you like or start with the book of John.
Take stock in what thoughts occupy your mind these days. Are they true and honoring to God? Does it pass the standard of Philippians 4:8-9?
Memorize a promise of God. Try starting with Philippians 4:5b-7 (Fighter Verses Set 3, Week 27).