Speaking to the Soul – Sunday September 19

A short reading and prayers for today

Timothy was well thought of by the believers in Lystra and Iconium, so Paul wanted him to join them on their journey. In deference to the Jews of the area, he arranged for Timothy to be circumcised before they left, for everyone knew that his father was a Greek.
Acts 16:2-3 NLT

This is a fascinating moment. Paul has just come away from the Council of Jerusalem where the decision has been clearly made that it is unnecessary for Christians to obey the Jewish law. He, more than anyone, passionately believed that it was not necessary for men to be circumcised and in his letters he is scathing of those who insisted on it. So why does he insist that his new companion, Timothy, should go through a ceremony which he believes is entirely unnecessary? The answer is clearly that he believed that their priority was to preach the gospel and that they must ensure that nothing got in the way of that. If Timothy was to work effectively amongst Jews then it would be much more helpful if he were to be circumcised. Timothy’s mother was a Jew and so he already had much in common with Jews, and his circumcision would make it much easier to speak with them.

Paul set out his thinking on this subject in 1 Corinthians 9.20. He wrote, “When I was with the Jews, I lived like a Jew to bring the Jews to Christ. When I was with those who follow the Jewish law, I too lived under that law. Even though I am not subject to the law, I did this so I could bring to Christ those who are under the law.” The particular challenge that Paul was facing may feel very far removed from our own situation, but the principles are the same. There are many people for whom the Good News of Jesus is a completely foreign language. That means that we need to go out of our way to make connections. And we will also need to look at ourselves and see if there is anything that we could change in order to get closer to them. For Paul nothing in the world was more important than bringing other people to Christ – and that hasn’t changed.


What could you do to reach out more effectively to your family, neighbours or work colleagues with the Good News of Jesus?


Lord God, thank you for Paul’s example. Help us to be humble enough to learn from it. Amen

Lord, we pray thee
that thy grace may always prevent and follow us,
and make us continually to be given to all good works;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Almighty God,
you have made us for yourself,
and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you:
Teach us to offer ourselves to your service,
that here we may have your peace,
and in the world to come may see you face to face;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.