Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts.
God changes lives. It’s a difficult concept to understand if you really think about it. God changes lives; He changes hearts.
In the face of this knowledge, however, I find myself relating more to some of the pharisees and the other religious elite found throughout the Bible.
Read the above verse again and notice something peculiar. The quotes stand out to me for several reasons. I used the nifty little tool of BibleGateway.com to look up multiple translations, and many of them have those quotations too. Here, these quotes demonstrate how the Jews of that day distinguished themselves from others, calling them heathen and unclean. In doing so, they exposed their pride that rested in their accomplishments. They reveled in the fact that their circumcision set them apart, but how did it set them apart?
Many translations of the last part of that verse call circumcision an “act of human hands” or something along those lines. The NLT in this translation goes a step further to explain that that act “affected only their bodies and not their hearts.”
This is the bottom-line: that action did nothing to change lives. If we go up a couple of verses, there we find the classic “not by works lest any man should boast” lines of the Bible. Ladies and gentlemen, this is what it means for this “not be of yourselves; it is the gift of God.”
Christ died to accomplish in us what we are unable to do ourselves. Yet, I find in myself that action of throwing faith and religion over my body. I try to cover my nakedness with actions (or abstinence), and then I try to flaunt that to the world like it is what they need.
It’s like going out onto the streets, throwing on a tuxedo, and walking up and down the road shouting “if you’d only wear the kind of clothes I wear, then you’d be okay.” I might as well be saying that donning an Armani suit will do the trick for that anxiety that rests in your heart!
No. My actions, my abstinence, my deeds do nothing to change the content of my heart.
So, ask yourself a question. Do you use your religion as a means to make yourself whole? Are you playing dress up or are you allowing Christ to truly change the content and heal the the anguish in your heart?