Galatians 2:11-14 ESV
“But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?’”
We should always be those who practice what we preach. Now, this is not to say that we will never fail at this, as Peter obviously did, but that, in practice, we should not be hypocrites. We should live what we teach to others and we should not be those who, in practice, speak one way and live another, like the Pharisees did. We, as followers of Jesus, are to be people of integrity and trustworthy, who walk the walk and who do not just talk it.
Now Peter was not a habitual hypocrite like the Pharisees were. He was a true man of God who taught and lived the truth of the gospel. But he was also human, and he let fear overtake him in this instance, and he yielded to his flesh, and he backed away from how he had been living and he changed his ways out of fear of certain people who were not living like he was, and who disapproved of how he was living in acceptance of the Gentiles.
Now, back then, a Gentile was a non-Jew, but a Gentile was also a term for an unbeliever. But when Jesus Christ died on that cross for our sins, he destroyed that barrier between Jew and Gentile and he made us both one through faith in Jesus Christ. So, we are no longer Jew and Gentile, but now we are saved and unsaved or believer and unbeliever. So anyone who does not have genuine faith in Jesus Christ is an unbeliever.
[Gal 3:16, 26-29; Rom 9:4-8; Gal 4:22-31; Eph 2:14-18; 1 Jn 2:22]
So, we are not in the exact same situation today here in America as were the Jews of that time who became followers of Jesus Christ. Well, you might be if you were a Jew by birth and if you were taught that non-Jews were inferior people with whom you are not to associate, and then if you believed in Jesus, and so you began to associate with other believers in Jesus who were not Jews by birth, and then if you went back to how you were before.
And I suppose that we can apply this to any kind of prejudicial situation where people of different races were brought up not to associate with others not of their own race. And then if they believed in Jesus and then became convicted that they should not be prejudicial, and so they began to get together and eat together with people of other races. But then, when those who are like how they were before are present, they change out of fear.
So, we should not be like that. We should not be one way with one group of people and be another way with a different group of people. We should be who we are always, no matter who we are with. We should be the same out in public as we are at home, i.e. our character should not change depending on who we are with. In other words, we are not to be chameleons who change colors in order to blend in with their environment.
So, don’t be a person who changes who you are depending upon who you are with. And please don’t be someone who rejects certain people because of their nationality or skin color or handicap or financial status, etc. Choose to love all people the same, with the love of God, and don’t love them only when you aren’t around your friends. Love them even if your friends are right there, and even if your friends disapprove of you.
Basically, don’t be double-minded and don’t be a hypocrite, but be who you are consistently all the time no matter who you are with. And keep on loving other humans with the love of God, and this includes sharing with them the truth of the gospel of our salvation, for that is the most loving thing we can do ever. And if you find yourself in Peter’s shoes, changing who you are depending upon who you are with, then repent, and obey the Lord.
[Lu 9:23-26; Jn 8:51; Jn 14:15-24; Jn 15:10; Matt 7:21-23; 1 Jn 2:3-6,15-17; 1 Jn 3:4-10,24; 1 Jn 5:2-3; 2 Jn 1:6; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14; Rom 12:1-2; Tit 2:11-14; Heb 5:9; 1 Pet 1:1-2; Jas 1:21-25; 1 Co 10:1-22; Heb 3:1-19; Heb 4:1-13; Php 2:12-13; Jn 10:27-30; Acts 5:32]
Near the Cross
Hymn lyrics by Fanny J. Crosby, 1869
Music by William H. Doane, 1869
Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
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