No Partiality

Now to go back and pick up on the side points Paul makes in Galatians 2v6-9:

v6 “what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality”

Although Paul had gone to set the gospel he proclaimed before “those who seemed to be influential” in Jerusalem, he evidently feels the need to remind the Galatians that actually the fact that someone is influential doesn’t really mean a whole lot as far as God is concerned. Paul says whether they were influential or not made no difference to him. He didn’t care how many followers they had. God does not show partiality towards those who are popular, and nor should we.

It’s tempting to think because a man is a pastor of a large church that his views are more authoritative than a pastor of a small church, or that the preferences of the popular people in a church are more important than those of less popular people. But God shows no partiality.

v8 “he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles”

It was the same God working through Peter in his ministry to the circumcised and through Paul in his ministry to the Gentiles.

God gives each of us a particular sphere of ministry to work in. Some are particularly concerned about caring for the poor in our society, some are particularly concerned about caring for the disabled, some for the elderly, some for those in other war-torn countries…

It’s tempting to think the people that God has given us a particular concern for and called us to serve are more important than anyone else’s calling, and sometimes we try to impose our calling on other people. But we should recognise that the same God calls different people to serve in different areas, and as James and Cephas and John gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and Paul, that Barnabas and Paul should go to the Gentiles while James and Cephas and John ministered to the circumcised, so we should be united in the knowledge that the same God is working through us, and we should encourage each other in the different roles we’ve been given.

And finally…

v10 “they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do”

So having made a big deal of the apostles confirming that the gospel Paul preached was complete, and that it’s wrong to add anything to it, Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to mention here that the apostles asked him to remember the poor.

If we have a responsibility as Christians to care for the poor, does that contradict the idea that we have complete freedom in Christ? No.

As I tried to explain earlier when talking about the freedom we have in Christ vs the slavery that the false brothers were trying to bring Christians under, the freedom we have in Christ is not freedom to be completely selfish and just do whatever we feel like doing. We’re freed from the need to obey the law in order to try to make God pleased with us, which means we’re free to obey the law out of love for him instead. Because in the gospel of Christ we see how great God is, we want to honour him, and we see his law as beautiful, so we want to do what it says.

But we still sometimes need reminding of what God’s law says, and loving your neighbour as yourself involves caring for the poor.


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