10 Minute Read

Be Still

To the best of your ability, get rid of all distractions. Take a couple of minutes to breathe deeply, to quiet yourself in the Lord’s presence. Then, prayerfully ask the Lord to speak to you in this time and let Him know that you will be listening and will make whatever adjustments He will reveal to you.

Today’s Bible Reading:

Isaiah 19:1–21:17
Galatians 2:1-16
Psalm 59:1-17
Proverbs 23:13-14

Listen to the Lord

Slowly and reflectively read the following verses and listen to what God will say to you through them. Then, consider writing down any insights He reveals to you.

Galatians 2:11-12 (NLT): “But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision.”

Reflections from Scripture:

Galatians 2:11-12 are interesting verses. Let’s spend a few minutes investigating the truth in them that God wants us to discover and apply.

The situation that they recount would have been tense. Peter did something that Paul believed to be wrong. So Paul confronted Peter publically. I suspect that silence would have been so loud that you could hear the grass growing outside. Then, little groups would have formed as people whispered their opinions of the matter.

In our present cultural Christianity (in America), we have watered down real Christianity. As presented in the Bible, Real Christianity is saturated with love, but it is also unafraid to stand up for what is right. This means that if someone gets embarrassed and has to make adjustments in their actions and beliefs, so be it.

In Galatians 2:11-14, we read that the Apostle Peter, an influential leader in the Jerusalem church, made a trip to Antioch to visit a gathering of believers. Those believers happened to be Gentiles (non-Jews).

The Lord had previously revealed to Peter that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile at the foot of the cross (Acts 10, esp. vs. 34; Galatians 3:28). So, as a Jewish follower of Jesus, he sat down to eat with Gentile Jesus-followers.

Yet, Paul tells us that when Jews from the Jerusalem church arrived, Peter got up and left the table of Gentiles and ate with the Jews. Paul further leads us to believe that Peter’s motive was the fear of the Jewish believers. They would have been appalled that he was eating with non-Jews. So, apparently, Peter would rather just eat with Jews than deal with the fallout of his actions.

When Peter’s actions and influence led other Jews to leave the table of the Gentiles, Paul spoke up. Essentially, they feared men more than they loved the Lord and the Gospel. Being motivated that way, they distorted the Gospel, demonstrated sinful prejudice, and failed to use a powerful teaching moment.

So, how can we work toward a more biblical mindset where we don’t make Peter’s mistake? Here’s an idea…

Make a priority list. What comes first in your life? What’s second? What’s third?

This is important because your priorities determine your beliefs and your behaviors. For example, Peter, at least temporarily, placed the fear of man above the fear of God, and it caused him to make a sinful decision. So, write out your priorities and keep them in front of you. Ask the Lord to help you in this.

Here is the priority list I strive to live by (its the subtitle of my website that appears at the top of this screen):

1. Jesus
2. My wife
3. My sons
4. My church
5. Etc., etc., etc.

In other words, if something lower on the list tries to take priority over something higher on the list, then I will seek the Lord’s guidance. For example, there will be occasions where I have to temporarily put a family event on hold because of a church need. Maybe, a quiet time with Jesus is temporarily put on hold because of a family problem that needs to be addressed. But, generally speaking, my priorities are set. 

Specifically, in regard to the theme of today’s post, I strive to not put others above Jesus. I work to not crave the affirmation of others. Instead, I crave Jesus’ affirmation. That’s because my priority list places Jesus far above others. If, as I follow Him, others are offended and get upset at me, then so be it.

For clarification, I’m not talking about being a jerk. We are commanded to love others. But if “others” are more important to me than Jesus, I am in sin.

Don’t be like Peter. Care much more for the Lord’s approval and the Gospel than about what others think of you.

Psalm 118:6 (NLT): “The LORD is for me, so I will have no fear. What can mere people do to me?”

He who fears God fears no man.

Spend Time in Prayer

Lord Jesus, help me to love others selflessly. But help me to love You more. Enable me to care much more about your affirmation than the affirmation of others. Because when my vertical relationship with You is where it should be, then my horizontal relationship with those around me tends to work best. I pray this in Your Name, Amen.

Matt Ellis is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Polk City, Florida (fbcpolkcity.com). His latest book is God’s Grace in the Real World. Connect with him on FacebookTwitter, or LinkedIn.

Photo by Amaury Gutierrez on Unsplash