“When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.” Galatians 2:11
I often wonder how Peter felt after he and the other disciples openly accepted Paul only for Paul to turn around a few verses later and rebuke him for his hypocritical behavior toward the Gentiles.
If you are not familiar with this text of scripture, in Galatians 2:9-21 we see Paul being accepted by the disciples as one worthy to preach the gospel of Jesus. Paul makes it clear earlier in the text that he is not looking for validation or approval from anyone to preach the Word that God has placed within him; however, that moment was significant because Peter, James, and John all embraced Paul and Barnabas as co-laborers.
It’s the equivalent of someone in a greater position of authority validating and supporting a gifting or idea that you have. It’s a pretty big deal.
Yet Paul, just a few verses later, confronts the very person who just blessed him.
This was very bold of him and even more bold of Peter to allow it. Peter had to know that his behavior was not a good reflection of the Christ that he was preaching about. Both of these men of influence were proclaiming the same gospel, but at that moment, one was living it out differently. Paul knew that because Peter had been given great influence, he needed to model the standard of holiness that he proclaimed.
Sometimes being sharpened isn’t about what we don’t know but rather being accountable for what we do.
Peter was there when Jesus said that the greatest commandment is to love your neighbor as yourself (John 10:27) when He walked amongst the sinners and the saints. He sat on the mountains when Jesus began to share the beatitudes with the disciples and the crowd (Matthew 5). However sometimes we choose reputation over representation; when we do, we–like Peter–need to be sharpened.
When Paul sharpened Peter, it was so that he would be reminded of how to represent Christ well and above all other cultural expectations. He was not concerned with how Peter would view him after this; he was more concerned with how God would be viewed because of Peter’s action. Paul’s sharpening was not for himself but for the honor of God’s name.
The Bible never tells us how Peter responded to this correction, but I am sure that his respect for Paul caused him to humble himself to truth and allowed it to transform his behavior.
This is why sharpening is so important.
Have you ever had a moment where you focused more on reputation than representation? Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently at that moment? Let me know in the blog comments
Rachel G. Scott
Rachel is a wife and a mother, writer, speaker, and entrepreneur. She has been featured nationally and internationally on television, podcast, radio, devotionals, and blogs. As the Founder of the I Can’t Come Down movement, an organization dedicated to helping women walk in their purpose and assignment with focus, she is a former Huffington post contributor and current Youversion and Moody Radio Cleveland Partner. She is also part of The Well Communicators a faith-based speaking team.
Rachel is deeply devoted to serving God, loving and honoring her husband and raising her children in a Godly home where they experience authenticity and learn to embrace their imperfections.