I Have To Do What? Are You Kidding Me!
Paul came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions that had been reached by the apostles and elders who were in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and they increased in numbers daily.— Acts 16:1-5
This is a little bit of a weird situation.
If you remember, there was this big blow-up about circumcision and its practice for Gentile converts. And the conclusion was that circumcision was not a requirement for salvation. The decision was that nothing was required for salvation other than faith initiated by God's grace. But here, it appears that Paul breaks his own rule. But really, he doesn't. The circumstance is entirely different. The circumcision of Timothy was not done as a prerequisite to salvation. It was also not the center of a significant debate about the salvation of Gentiles. Paul was simply requesting it of Timothy as his traveling companion.
You see, most believe that Paul was concerned that non-believing Jews would dismiss Timothy's witness for being uncircumcised, which would create complications for the message of the Gospel to Jews. And since Timothy was raised as a Jew, trained as a Jew, and practiced Judaism as a child, he should have done that last step a long time ago. But because his father was Greek, he must have disallowed it. In this case, Paul's request was not a matter of his salvation but a matter of three things:
- Timothy completing his rite as a Jew, not as a Christian.
- Timothy having a voice in the ministry to non-believing Jews.
- Timothy removing hindrances in his life for the salvation of others.
So the lesson is this: if you travel with Paul, the price is one foreskin.
No, just kidding, that's not the lesson.
The lesson is this. Winning a non-believer will sometimes mean that we, the believer, might have to remove hindrances to their unbelief. Now, this is not to infer that we should act ungodly to win an unbeliever. But rather that we might have to make a sacrifice, a painful sacrifice, to remove the objections they have to believe.
So today, consider this: What are you doing today that might hinder someone's belief. And then do this — cut it out.
ASK THIS: What are you doing today that might hinder someone's belief?
DO THIS: Cut it off. Circumcise it. Snip it.
PRAY THIS: God, may I never do something to hinder the belief of another!
PLAY THIS: Way Maker — Paul McClure.
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