Romans 2:28-29 (New International Version – NIV)
28 A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical.
29 No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.
Some years ago, there was a lady working as an airline check-in clerk who wore a crucifix at work. Her employer instructed her that she had to remove the cross as it didn’t meet their uniform policy. Perhaps you are able to remember that case. In due course, she took her employer to court and won the case. I’m sure that no-one reading this story would have any doubt as to her declaration of faith. The symbol around her neck spoke volumes about who this lady was and proclaimed her Christianity. The jewellery she wore did not in any way ‘make’ her a Christian. The symbolic necklace does not contribute to her salvation but it certainly demonstrated her belief in God and told the world of her faith. What was going on the inside, was being ‘spoken’ through the crucifix she wore.
This is perhaps a poor analogy, but I think it gives an idea of what is at the heart of what our verses are saying today.
God wanted His people to be a completely separate nation that loved and served Him. They were to be a chosen people, unique in the world and a nation that stood apart from every other race on the planet. In a world that stood in opposition to a Holy God, circumcision was an outward symbol of what God was doing in the hearts of His people. This was a devotion to a God of salvation. The name ‘Jew’ is a contraction of Judah and this means ‘Praised’. Some Jews boasted of their circumcision and in reality were praising themselves. Our lives should always be filled with praise to God. We shouldn’t use any external articles nor any religious ritual to speak His praise unless they are a true reflection of what is going on in our hearts.
Psalm 34:1 says ‘I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall be continually be in my mouth.’ My prayer is that each one of us demonstrate our faith not in what we wear or by which church we attend, but by a life that speaks His praise continually.