11 See what large letters I use as I write to you with my own hand!
12 Those who want to impress people by means of the flesh are trying to compel you to be circumcised. The only reason they do this is to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ. 13 Not even those who are circumcised keep the law, yet they want you to be circumcised that they may boast about your circumcision in the flesh. 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which[a] the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. 15 Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything; what counts is the new creation. 16 Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule—to[b] the Israel of God.
17 From now on, let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.
18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.
In Galatians, Paul is writing for one main purpose. The Jewish Christians are trying to get new Gentile converts to be circumcised, some as adult men. But though this is against the main tenet of Christianity that we are saved by grace through faith, Paul is also exposing another problem in the Galatian church. They were impressed by their own acts of religiosity. But in fact they were afraid of being lumped in with the new Christian movement, and being persecuted by their fellow Jews. So they were using a spiritual scapegoat for their own means. And also they were using it as a means of boasting.
Paul has gone down that road before and has realized how futile it is to try and measure up to the Law. In fact the Law is set up to show how unattainable it is to keep all the commandments. When we realize the futility of this we are driven to the cross. That is why says, if he were boast in anything it should be the cross. If we boast in anything else it shows we really don't get the meaning of the cross. We are still taking credit for something only God could do.
It is easy to see the error of the early Galatian church. We wouldn't dream of doing something like that today. But yet we are tempted to get cocky about our spiritual attainments, or our religious pedigree. Subtly we can start relying on our flesh rather than God's grace in Jesus. So how can we know this? When we do things for God, do we need to be noticed or thanked? Do we get angry when we aren't? Do we find ourselves talking more about ourselves and what we have done, or about Jesus and what and what He has has done? Do we look down on those who are not as committed as we are? Or, do we seek ways to encourage them and build them up in their faith?
Bottom line do we spend our time boasting about ourselves or Jesus?