In Galatians 2:11-21 Paul recounts a public conflict with Peter that took place in Antioch. It seems Peter, the great apostle, was not above reproach. The passage describes Peter as behaving a certain way around one group of people (the Gentiles) and then acting another way around a different group (the Jews). Paul knew immediately he could not ignore this display of hypocrisy. I think Paul was a little like the Sons of Isasachar in 1 Chronicles 7:1. They “understood the times, and knew what Israel should do.” Paul intuitively understood the perils of compromising gospel truth at this critical stage of church history. Thank God for Paul’s clarity! So much was at stake. Peter’s hypocrisy could have been absolutely destabilizing. Peter had position and influence in the church. This meant that his personal weaknesses and compromises were not always so private. In fact, if left unchecked, he could be downright dangerous to the very truth he was preaching. Verse thirteen confirms this. “The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.” I emphasized the word “even” because there is the sense that even subtle errors can evade the most discerning saints!
While our situation might not carry the same significance as the one in Galatians, there is a clear kingdom principle that we can extract. Compromising the truth of the Gospel is not a personal decision. There are souls at stake. Whatever your sphere of influence, a decision to act out of step with the gospel can put others are at risk. If it happened to Peter, it can happen to us.
Lord, give us the grace to live for truth. Forgive us for compromise that has caused others to stumble. Transform us into men and women of gospel clarity and integrity. Amen.