Scripture: Some men came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the brothers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question. The church sent them on their way, and as they traveled through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told how the Gentiles had been converted. This news made all the brothers very glad. When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.” The apostles and elders met to consider this question. After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Acts 15:1-11 NIV
He came to Derbe and then to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived, whose mother was a Jewess and a believer, but whose father was a Greek. The brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take him along on the journey, so he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in that area, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. Acts 16:1-3 NIV
Observation: The conversion of Gentiles to Christ is discussed. Many Pharisees demanded that the Gentiles be circumcised.
Application: Peter made the case before the Jewish leaders that God had accepted the Gentiles and blessed them with the Holy Spirit just as he had blessed the Jewish converts. Demanding circumcision for the Gentiles would be placing an undue burden on the new believers and Peter made that very point. That said…before Paul took Timothy with him on an evangelical journey where many Jews lived, he circumcised him. Why? I believe that he did it so that neither he nor Timothy would be a stumbling block to the Jews of the area. We Christians have a great responsibility to the world. Not just to talk the talk but also to walk the walk before men. We must be sensitive, as Paul and Timothy were, to not cause others to chase after false truths.
Prayer: Father, help me to walk the walk before men. Lord, don’t let my actions or appearance adversely affect anyone and drive them from you. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen