Galatians 6v16: “And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.”
Peace and mercy. Peace: freedom from disturbance; tranquility. Mercy: compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone who it is within one’s power to punish or harm. We all want peace, and we all need mercy. We live in a fallen, disturbed world, and we are part of it; we are fallen and disturbed ourselves. And we deserve punishment. Justice always seems like a good idea when other people are at fault, but when we find ourselves in a situation where we realise we’re the ones who justly deserve to be punished, then we plead for mercy.
How can we get peace and mercy?
Paul’s main purpose in this letter has been to oppose those who’ve been teaching the Galatians that they need to obey certain rules to make sure God accepts them. They taught that there were certain deeds you need to perform to be part of the Israel of God. Paul wraps up his argument by saying there is this one rule they need to obey: don’t boast in your circumcision or anything else except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, be crucified to the world with him and start living as a new creation by faith in him.
This is a bit of a strange rule, because the rule is that you must not trust in your obedience.
But the gospel is a rule that we must obey. If we obey this rule – if we completely give up on trying to earn God’s acceptance and rest all our hope on what Jesus has done for us – then God will accept us, and we’ll receive peace and mercy. If we disobey this rule – if we profess faith in Jesus but still try to contribute some of our own efforts towards our justification – then God will reject us.