In this passage, Peter was visiting Antioch to probably visit Paul and Peter was spending time with Gentile believers. We read here that he was eating with them. From the perspective of a Jew, it was highly unacceptable to eat with Gentiles as they were considered unclean in the light of God’s laws. It is likely that Peter was not observing the strict Jewish traditions as we know from Acts 10 that it was Peter who preached the Gospel to Gentile Cornelius and family. God gave Peter a vision that there were no longer any divisions of clean and unclean for all of God’s people. As we read on, we know that Peter withdrew from eating with the gentiles because a group of Jews arrived because Peter feared them.
This is an incredible account of Paul opposing and correcting Peter’s behavior by calling him a hypocrite. Peter was one of the 12 apostles. He walked with Jesus for 3 years, listened to him preach and saw the risen Christ. Peter was asked to lead the church and was given the title, “the Rock”. You would think that of all people, Peter would be the last to be called a hypocrite, especially after the events in Acts 10 as well. What led to this embarrassing event for Peter? It was his fear of others might think of him. When we have fear in our hearts, we will compromise our walk with God. When the rubber hits the road, what do we stand on? The approval of men or the approval of God? Peter always had this weakness. Remember when Jesus was on trial and Peter denied Jesus 3 times? We must remember that fear is not from God. God does not want us to live in fear but to trust him and make choices that glorify him.
You see, all of us have certain traits in us that has a potential to compromise our relationship with God. What is it for you? Fear? Pride? Insecurity? It is important that we identify it and pray for the Holy Spirit to work in those areas of our lives. His strength is made perfect is our weakness. What do I mean by that? Only when we acknowledge our imperfection will the Holy Spirit take over and empower us to be like Christ.
In this account as well, we learn that our actions may lead others astray. This is especially true for leaders, not only for those holding positions in ministries but also your household. Our actions and choices can have an influence on others. We must realise that our Christian life is not to live in isolation and wrongly assume that nobody is watching our words and actions. We are called to be a pleasing aroma of Christ to those around us and so let us all live our lives that is faithful and glorifying to God.
Heavenly Father, I pray for your strength to never compromise your Word and to continue to be a faithful servant to you. Reveal to us areas that may cause us to stumble and we trust the Holy Spirit to take over and empower us to be overcomers for Your Glory. Amen.