“As many as desire to make a good showing in the flesh, these would compel you to be circumcised, only that they may not suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For not even those who are circumcised keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh” (Galatians 6:12-13).
There is very little that is truly new when we stop to consider it, at least not in the sense of something that has never existed before. For instance, much of what we call “new” today is often nothing more than an existing product, service, idea, or belief that has been packaged in a different way. In fact, the same is true of this very observation, for the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes expressed this same idea long ago…
“Whatever has happened before will happen again. Whatever has been done before will be done again. There is nothing new under the sun. Can you say that anything is new? It has already been here long before us” (Ecclesiastes 1:9-10 GW).
We can apply this same premise to the passage from Galatians 6:12-13 quoted above. For instance, there are no shortages of those who “desire to make a good showing in the flesh” today. However, there is a fine line between the desire to honor God in our accomplishments and an attempt to “impress others by… external appearance” (ISV).
For example, consider the hard-hitting observation made by one commentator…
“When we’ve got something to boast about, we work it into conversation, don’t we? We are so sneaky, so effectively dropping those statements that let people know that we got the raise, that we won the prize, that we were so spiritual, that we did so well. We can work anything into any conversation, no matter how much of a stretch it is. But instead, we should be doing that with the cross of Jesus! Instead of boasting about our accomplishments, we should be boasting about what Jesus has accomplished.” (1)
This passage also identifies the hypocritical nature of the false teachers who had infiltrated the Galatian churches. You see, Galatians 6:13 tells us, “…those teachers who submit to circumcision don’t try to keep the other Jewish laws; but they want you to be circumcised in order that they can boast that you are their disciples” (TLB).
While it is not necessarily wrong to expand our sphere of influence, these verses remind us that we must not do so hypocritically, nor should we do so at the expense of sound Biblical doctrine.
(1) Ron Daniel, Study Notes Galatians 6:6-18 http://rondaniel.com/library/48-Galatians/Galatians0606.php