Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
But from those who seemed to be something — whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man — for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.
The Apostle Paul was very gentle with weak brethren whose conscience was over-scrupulous. He readily made policy concessions, as in the case when he circumcised Timothy. But on a matter of principle, when the truth of the gospel was at stake, he stood firm and would not budge. This combination of softness and strength is well expressed by Marin Luther:
“Let this be then the conclusion of all together, that we will suffer our goods to be taken away, our name, our life, and all that we have, but the gospel, our faith Jesus Christ, we will never suffer to be wrested from us. And cursed be that humility which here abaseth and submitteth itself. Nay rather, let every Christian man here be proud and spare not, except he will deny Christ. Wherefore, God assisting me, my forehead shall be more hard than all men’s foreheads. Here I take upon me this title, according to the proverb: cedo nulli, I give place to none. Yea, I am glad even with all my heart, in this point to seem rebellious and obstinate. And here I confess that I am and ever will be stout and stern, and will not one inch give place to any creature. Love giveth place, for it beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things (1 Cor. 13:7), but faith giveth no place. Now, as concerning faith we ought to be invincible, and more hard, if it might be, than the adamant stone; but as touching love, we ought to be soft, and more flexible that the reed or leaf that is shaken with the wind, and ready to yield to everything.”
In what areas have you yielded to false brethren and been brought into bondage? In what areas have you tried to rob the freedom true believers have in Christ? Maybe this week you need to go to someone and tell them of the freedom we have in Christ Jesus. Go and tell your brothers and sisters that we are free at last, free at last!
Listen to this message: