Good résumés are important for landing a good job. Classes are given and programs written on how to compose a good résumé. But what does a résumé do? It tells prospective employers about you and may even contain your philosophy on some matter. Résumés give pertinent background information so the prospective employer can get to know you better. They show work experience and tell what hobbies and interests you have. Normally, résumés include previous employers and character references, enabling prospective employers to check you out to see what kind of person you really are. A résumé is very important.
A lifetime of experiences is the way we build résumés, and we continue to add to it by working in different places and involving ourselves in different activities. Our résumé is never complete until we die or quit working.
Believers are also in the process of building résumés. Paul was in the process of building his. He had to appeal to his résumé because the Judaizers were attacking his credentials as an apostle. They accused him of nullifying the Mosaic ceremonies, standards, and practices. He was watering down the Gospel message to make it more attractive to the Gentiles, telling them they didn’t need to obey the Mosaic traditions and ceremonies anymore.
What Paul was teaching was accurate but not in the eyes of those who tried to bind early Christians under the yoke of the ceremonial law again. Many Galatians were listening to the Judaizers. Some began to doubt the legitimacy of Paul’s apostolicity. Others still harbored prejudices against the Gentiles, making it easier for them to listen to the Judaizers. Perhaps they were looking for any reason not to accept the Gentiles.
How is it that we build a good résumé?
Be a God Pleaser, Not a People Pleaser
Paul wasn’t in the Gospel-spreading business to please people, but God. There was a time when he tried to please people, when he persecuted Christians to please his fellow Jews—but not now. That was his past life, before he met the risen Lord on the Damascus Road. Now, Jesus had created in him a new heart with new desires, he taught and lived a different way.
Paul’s current goal was pleasing God, something he had tried to do since his conversion experience on road to Damascus. But now he is being accused of being a people pleaser. This was a preposterous accusation. He had surrendered his life entirely to Jesus. (At the end of this epistle, he reminds his readers, “For I bear on my body the brand-marks of Jesus.” Some of these marks he received in Galatia. In the city of Lystra, he was stoned and left for dead.)
People pleasers try their best to escape ridicule and trouble, but Paul didn’t run from conflict, even from his own people. Paul’s first purpose was pleasing God. A part of pleasing Christ was rebuking those who taught salvation by works. Such a teaching detracted from the Gospel message of grace through Jesus Christ. If Paul had to offend some to stand for the truth of God’s word, he would. And he did. He deeply offended those who tried to bind people under the yoke of the law again.
By nature, we want to please others. Few people enjoy conflict. While some are agitators by nature, they are in the minority. Most people want others to like them and are striving for unity and acceptance.
But there comes a point where we must draw the line. If pleasing others means contradicting or compromising the doctrines of God’s word, we must stand for the truth. We can be people pleasers to a certain extent—and must to function in society—but there is a line we can’t cross lest we offend God. And it is much worse to offend him than others. We must remember even Jesus himself couldn’t please everyone. In fact, they crucified him because of what he taught.
Think of the church. People from different walks of life, backgrounds, and personalities comprise them. It’s a challenge to work together for the best interests of the church without our own personalities, attitudes, and prejudices getting in the way. But it’s our responsibility to work together. The point we cannot cross to please others is compromising God’s word. On occasion, we must agree to disagree without being disagreeable.
Speak God’s Message, Not Your Own
God gave Paul the message he preached. Paul is saying; “Let me make it perfectly clear. The Gospel I preach is not human either in nature or in authority. I did not invent it or alter it, nor did any other person.”
Paul’s message was divine in origin. Had Paul preached a message with an origin in humanity, it would have been a message of works. That was the message the Judaizers were preaching. A person had to work for their salvation. They had to obey traditions and ceremonies now outdated by the work of Christ. Paul preached a message of grace and peace through faith in Jesus Christ.
The reason man’s message is often one of works is because of pride. We must prove we are superior to the next person by way of comparison. If I do more, that makes me a better person. In our sinful state, the message of God, which says we experience God’s love freely through faith in his Son, offends us. Our pride makes us want to do something, but it’s nothing we can do to receive salvation other than freely believe. We can’t earn it through faithful attendance to God’s church, church membership, a vital prayer life, good deeds shown to others, or in any other way. God gives it freely to those who place their faith in him.
This instruction to speak God’s message was especially directed at the Judaizers who thought they were speaking God’s message, but really weren’t. Their message came mostly from rabbinical traditions. Their theology, standards, and ceremonies had roots in the Old Testament but were so diluted and distorted by their traditions and interpretations that the Judaism of the New Testament was largely received from man and not God. Scripture was a religious relic, not something deserving serious study or obedience. For the most part, what they tried to live by was man-made traditions, many of which contradicted Scripture. This is proven by the reinterpretation Jesus did during his earthly ministry. Many of his strongest rebukes were for the religious leaders, not the common sinners.
Paul himself was once caught up in this. He was trained at the rabbinical schools and was a Pharisee trained according to the strictest sect of the Jewish religion. After meeting the risen Savior, he discarded all this for true religion that pleased God. Paul had reason to boast of his Jewish accomplishments, but he didn’t because God showed him the error of his ways. He now counted all this as rubbish.
Paul’s new-found freedom came by way of revelation from Jesus Christ. A revelation is an unveiling of something that was previously secret. Paul knew of Jesus. This was the reason he had gone about persecuting those who followed Jesus. He knew Jesus dispensed with the rabbinical traditions and ceremonies. All of this changed, however, when he met the risen Lord. God removed his veil of spiritual ignorance.
If we are to build a good résumé, we must speak God’s message not our own. God’s message involves believing in his Son who paid for our sins on Calvary’s cross. Following that, we live for him by obeying his commands. There are many differences about some things among God’s people, but in spite of our minor differences, all Christians believe faith in Jesus Christ is the way to salvation. This is God’s message we must speak.
Tradition can be good but deadly. The Judaizers taught a deadly form. To depend on works at the expense of God’s grace destroyed the message of the New Testament. In speaking the message of God, we must make sure it’s his message and not our own or one passed on by tradition. We must make sure we haven’t interpreted the Word of God to suit our own attitudes or prejudices. It must be God’s message, not beliefs colored by traditions passed on by parents, relatives, or misinformed teachers.
Prove Your Conversion
Paul didn’t prove his conversion by anything from his previous lifestyle. He was a diligent persecutor of God’s church and Christians. His life before conversion centered in the law and tradition. Being indoctrinated by such a background caused him and many other Jews to lose sight of God’s grace. He and they trusted their own works. He tried to destroy God’s church. He advanced in the teaching of Judaism far beyond many of his contemporaries. He was blazing the trail but in the process cutting down any who got in his way of interpreting God’s word.
Not until Christ in his resurrected form confronted Paul on the Damascus Road did he change. Nothing human could explain his total turn around. Only the grace of God could account for it. God enabled him to regain control of his life. From that point, he set out to prove his conversion. A call to service accompanied his transformation.
After spending some time with the apostles at Damascus, he went to Arabia where he prepared for the ministry. From here, he returned to Damascus. After a period of three years, Paul went to Jerusalem. Here he met some of the apostles. From Jerusalem, he went to Syria and Cilicia.
Because of his background, we can understand why it was difficult for early believers to accept Paul’s conversion. They thought he was faking in order to arrest them. Paul had to prove his conversion. He didn’t preach a Gospel of works, but he largely proved his conversion through good works and a continuance in God’s work.
We too build our résumé by proving our conversion to others. We may speak good words, but our actions prove who we are. Some have trouble trusting Christians. Perhaps they have known professing Christians whom they feel let them down by immoral or unethical actions. This happens and is why we must diligently attempt to prove our new birth to others. We must be consistent and holy in our behavior so others can see Christ’s love through us.
Martin Wiles is an author, teacher, and freelance editor currently residing in Greenwood, South Carolina. He and his wife Michelle are founders and editors of Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). Wiles has authored Grits & Grace & God and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), Morning By Morning,Morning Serenity, Grace Greater Than Sin (America Star Books), Authentic Christianity (Smashwords) and is a contributing author in Penned from the Heart (Son-Rise Publications), and Rise (Chaplain Publishing). He has served as Regional Correspondent and Sunday school lesson writer for the Baptist Courier and also written for LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum. He has also been published in Open Windows, Proclaim, The Secret Place, Upper Room, Light from the Word, Reach Out Columbia, Mustard Seed Ministries, Journey Christian Newspaper,Common Ground Herald, The Quiet Hour, and Power for Living. He is a regular contributor to Christian Devotions, and PCC Daily Devotions, and is a regular contributor for the Dorchester County Eagle Record, the Orangeburg County Times and Democrat, and the Greenwood County Index Journal. Wiles also serves as the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as an assistant Editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina. You can follow him @linesfromgod.