For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. (Galatians 5:6 NIV)
Circumcision is generally not a religious issue among Christians today. But in Paul’s day, it was very contentious. Circumcision represented keeping the Old Testament Law, something that many Jewish Christians were very concerned about. To them, the Law remained very important and was something that they felt every believer should follow.
But Paul, although keeping the Law himself, argued against forcing the Gentile believers to observe it. At the heart of this issue is the question; is there anything I must do to be saved apart from faith? And Paul’s response throughout this letter to the Galatian churches is a resounding no.
But does that mean that, as a believer, I am free to do what I want? I don’t believe so. In the second half of this verse, Paul may have had in mind the greatest commandments (Matt. 22:37-39) identified by Jesus; to love God with all you are, and to love others as yourself. What Paul tells us is that what counts is not obeying the Law. It is faith that expresses itself through love – love for God, and love for others.
A faith that does not express itself in love is dead and worthless (Jam. 2:14-26). To be clear, I am not saved because of the expressions of love in my life. But I am saved by a living faith. A faith that expresses itself through love.