Acts 16:3 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.
Paul was a part of the counsel in Jerusalem where he argued hard that circumcision was not required for salvation. He later circumcised Timothy, knowing that people would be aware of his gentile heritage, for fear this would be a distraction.
Freedom is a right in American culture. We are raised to believe that we have rights given to us by God and that we should fight, even to the point of death, to keep those rights. My culture simply does not understand Paul’s decision in this passage , nor Timothy’s obedience. A few things…
-Paul knew circumcision was not a requirement for a relationship with Jesus. He had witnessed the Holy Spirit fall on uncircumcised gentiles and that the circumcision that truly mattered was a circumcision of the heart. However he also knew that it was a highly debated issue and that it could become a distraction to the effectiveness of their mission.
So Paul decides its best to circumcise Timothy for the sake of mission. (Mission trumps freedoms)
-This was a sacrifice for Timothy. He was a teenager at this point. Circumcision was typically performed on the 8th day of a child’s life in accordance with the law. Putting myself in this situation it is hard for me to think I would go for it, especially since I knew the guy telling me to do it preached that it wasn’t necessary. There was a level of trust, respect and honor here that I don’t think I have experienced. However the effectiveness of their ministry was directly connected to the trust between them. Timothy trusted Paul and when things got hard this helped them both stay true to the task. (Respect and trust in ministry is essential to effectiveness)
-Tough decisions were made with other people in mind. The decision to circumcise Timothy was a decision for other people. Paul knew that the distraction an uncircumcised preacher would have on the Jews in each city would potentially limit the gospel being preached and people responding. Therefore the sacrifice was made. In a modern day church culture that sacrifices until its hard, Paul and Timothy exemplify a culture of sacrifice until it’s enough. (Love others Enough to share the good news and life, even at a high cost to myself)
Father thank you for this word this morning. Please help this shape the way I lead and minister. May I sacrifice, even my own comforts for the sake of others.