Growing up I was never fearful of a little hard work. In fact, it was expected in my home that if you didn’t work, you didn’t eat… Okay, that might be an overstatement, but it’s not too far off. You see, growing up, my parents gave me a wonderful gift… it was called hard work. The example of my parents was a mom who woke up at 4:30am every morning to spend quiet time with God before heading into work around 6:30am… every… day. My father only missed one day of work for sickness in the 35+ years at the same company. He even tore his MCL at work one day falling off a ladder and stayed to try and finish his shift. Seriously… hard work! Do you know how hard it was to try and stay home from school because you didn’t “feel good”? My arm or leg had to be hanging on by a thread in order to stay home.
My parents also taught me that if you wanted something, you needed to earn the money to get it. At twelve-years-old I started working cleaning pots and pans at a campground earning a whopping $20 a day! My staff laughs at me when I share with them all the jobs I’ve had up till the point of becoming a Pastor.
Although I worked hard, and didn’t mind working hard, I also didn’t mind the praise that came along with it. I was an “Attaboy” junkie! There were times when I would try as hard as I could to get an “Attaboy” out of my stubborn bosses or co-workers. I can remember when one night heaven and earth met in a cosmic alignment when my boss at the Deli said to me, “Attaboy.” I couldn’t believe it! He actually said, “Attaboy.” He said not to get to used to it because one “oh crap” takes them all away.
It wasn’t until later in life that I began to realize that I was spending a lot of my time trying to receive praise from man, verses receiving praise from God. I began to understand the power of Colossians 3:23 (NLT) 23 Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.
Let me ask you this question: From who and what are you seeking praise?
Romans 2:29b (NLT) 29 And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by the Spirit. And a person with a changed heart seeks praise from God, not from people.
As we’ve heard and read before, Paul is faithfully trying to communicate that circumcision will do nothing to draw you closer to God. You need to remember that Paul is talking to both Jewish and Gentile believers, but primarily Gentile believers who are trying to understand what “being a Christian” is all about. As he declares in verse 29, circumcision won’t/ can’t produce a change of heart, that can only be accomplished by the Holy Spirit! He goes on to conclude that when the Holy Spirit redirects our heart, He also redirects our motives. We no longer live to seek the praise of people, but rather we seek the praise from God.