What Counts

Day 270

Prayer for the day

For God alone my soul in silence waits; truly, my hope is in him.

Scripture for the day

Isaiah 3-4, Galatians 6

Ever notice how we get hung up on the wrong thing so often? Humanity seems uniquely gifted when it comes to majoring on the minors. It’s a concern for Paul and it’s a concern for Isaiah. Both of these say it’s a concern for God, so it seems like something we ought to pay attention to.

For Isaiah, the people of Israel have been focusing on their personal wealth, on their appearance, on the frivolous things of life that do not bring righteousness or even lasting happiness. They have focused on their hair, on their jewelry, on their clothing and on finery, while they have neglected the important things of God: caring for the less fortunate, worshipping God honestly and truly. They have traded the important for the futile, and they have revelled in the transaction.

Isaiah calls the people of Israel to account, helping them to understand the tragedy of what will befall them because of their lack of attention. They have sinned grievously, and will be punished in kind.

Paul has a similar concern for the Galatians. Instead of wealth and finery, they have cared for the minutiae of the law in order to avoid persecution. They have focused on safety to the neglect of obedience, and in this, they also have sinned. Circumcision, all those little marks of adherence to the law, are not important to Paul in the long run/. What is important, says Paul, is the New Creation. New Creation is what counts. Not a simple mutilation or transformation of the skin, but a complete overhaul.

For Paul, as for Isaiah, lip service is insufficient. If God is our God, then God is fully God, and we are fully bound to him, not simply in the minutiae, and not by lip service only.

May we focus on what counts.

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