See with what large letters I am writing to you with my own hand. It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ. For even those who are circumcised do not themselves keep the law, but they desire to have you circumcised that they may boast in your flesh. But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation. And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.
From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers. Amen. – Galatians 6:11-18
My experience in a congregation I served early in my ministry was a collection of difficult, anxious, hurting, angry, and distrustful people. One particularly difficult family was divided brother from sister in harsh criticism of and division from each other. The brother accused the sister of terrible if not immoral behavior. The sister said the brother was viciously unkind. I had my conclusions, though I tried as best I could to remain neutral.
Then one day I encountered the bitter and viscous tongue of the brother. He was so harsh to me that I went reeling from an aborted visit to his mother in the hospital. Half way out of the hospital, I decided to turn around and apologize. When I did, the brother attacked me again! His tongue was rapier-sharp. It hurt deeply and I just left in stunned silence.
Later, when I visited with his sister, I immediately had credibility with her and her daughter because I had experienced her brother’s vicious verbal attack. When her daughter expressed doubt about whether they could trust me, she said, “He knows Tom’s (not his real name) nature. He’s seen it.” I had an in with them both from that time on.
Sometimes the bitter pain we bear can bring a credibility to a relationship. We who have faced the battles and suffered the scars of the fight can speak truth to their comrades in arms. The enemy of my enemy makes for a close fellowship.
Paul has suffered greatly for the sake of the gospel. He has suffered as a servant of Jesus for their sake. So when he brings his concerns about the circumcision party to their attention, he can demand that they give his concerns due consideration. He’s been in the battle. He’s fought for them. They need to listen to him, and give him his due.
Have you gone to the mat for anyone? Have you fought the fight for their good? Have you suffered so that someone can know the truth. Have you been betrayed? Have you paid a financial price? If so, you have “cred.” Cred is short for credibility. It’s a gravitas and believability that comes from life’s hard knocks and shared battles. If you have cred, use it. Leverage it for the sake of the truth of God’s love and the grace of God in Jesus.
Jesus has more cred than anyone else ever in the history of eternity. No one has suffered more. No one more sacrificial love. He’s gone to the cross for you. Listen to him. Let his grace and truth hold sway over all you do.