Monthly Message Feb 2024

“Faith expressing itself through love”   (Galatians 5:6)

 Dear friends,

Writing to the Galatians, Paul makes an astonishingly bold statement (5:6): “…in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value”.  Wow!  The outward marks of your religion amount to nothing. Moreover, the lack of such outward marks is no disadvantage.  It is like saying, “Simply being an Anglican, or being a member of a Baptist church, etc. does not guarantee salvation”.  Paul does not mince his words.  “The only thing that counts”, he says, “is faith expressing itself through love”.

We mustn’t miss the context here.  Paul is not referring to faith in anyone or anything, but faith in Christ (whose death alone provides forgiveness and eternal life). So how do we express that faith?  He has a rather surprising answer to that question.  He would not, of course, discount baptism, or a verbal testimony, nor an eagerness to grasp sound doctrine.  All these things are important.  But of paramount importance (‘the only thing that counts’) is “faith expressing itself through love”.

It is a sad fact that Christians do not always express their faith through love.  Often sound doctrine has been held in a spirit of self-righteousness.  Patrick Mitchel (The Message of Love”, BST, p225) helpfully says: “It is faith that leads to a dynamic relationship with God, empowered by his Spirit, and evidenced in a life of practical action for the good of others”.  That last phrase is what the Bible means by ‘love’.

If love means ‘practical action for the good of others’, how far is my faith expressed through love?  The Greek word translated “expressing” here means ‘to be at work, or in action’.  Our word ‘energy’ derives from it.  So, the saving faith I have in Jesus Christ should be seen in the effort I put in to being loving towards others.

A mark of a good church is not just its teaching, but its faith expressed through love.

In your church, and in your life, what is “the only thing that counts”?

In Christ,

Tony Mason