Links Daily Devotional

All That Counts

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)

Let’s peek at a recent mini-poll, the results of which showed up in Golf Digest this month. It asked golfers, What would you most like to be able to say after a round? Here were the results:

– Forty percent want to say, “I made some putts.”

– Thirty-six percent want to say, “I hit the ball solid.”

– Fourteen percent want to say, “I drove it well.”

– And ten percent want to say, “I had a good score.”

Now I don’t know what your own answer would be, and perhaps it varies depending on what kind of golf you’re playing, be it casual or competitive. You might also argue that making putts or hitting the ball solid generally leads to good scores. But as in every game, golf has an object. Forgive me for going all elementary here, but the object of golf is to score as well as you can.

When I love someone with faith as the engine of that love, it means that I am allowing God to work through me.OK, maybe that’s not the object for you. As a form of recreation, of course, you can play golf for exercise or companionship or fresh air and green grass. But as a game, “the only thing that counts” is whether you scored well.

How is it that as human beings we have become so adept at missing the main thing? Whether we do so religiously or irreligiously, we get ourselves in all kinds of trouble.

When Paul wrote to the Galatians of the freedom we have in Christ, he was required to get into the uncomfortable topic of circumcision. Against all common sense, adult Gentile men who had never before considered circumcision had become convinced by Judaizers that this was required of them if they were to get “in” with God. Paul was livid. How could such an empty act be held up as comparable to what really mattered?

It’s a question for us all. It is true that the ways of the world can sear our consciences and keep us from Christ. The devil may be holding a sinner captive to do his will (2 Timothy 2:26). But likewise, the ways of religious activity can deter us from trusting God and leaning on his salvation.

So let’s drill it down. What’s essential? “Faith expressing itself in love.” Those aren’t my words, but the inspired words of God through Paul’s pen. When I love someone with faith as the engine of that love, it means that I am allowing God to work through me. It means that I recognize all my goodness comes from the Lord. It means that even when loving someone is a difficult act, I am counting on God to “work it all out for good” (Romans 8:28). And most of all it means that all my bright ideas for getting it right don’t begin to compare with God’s forgiveness and grace, which are the very things I want to shine through in the love I express to others.

Jeff Hopper
January 20, 2016
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