When I Am Ashamed—My Belly Is My God
There is a marked contrast between Paul’s attitude when he said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ” (Rom. 1:16), and the attitude so many have today. Tragically, there were those in the first century who were ashamed of the gospel, and the same attitude is found in our day.
Some are ashamed of brethren who boldly speak the truth. When David, the young shepherd, visited his brothers and heard the challenge of Goliath, he could not be silent. Every word he said that day was true. He asked, “Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God” (1 Sam. 17:26)? His own brothers were ashamed of him and did all they could to silence him. They were not truly servants of God. They put themselves above truth.
Some are ashamed of brothers who have done wrong and then change and do right. An illustration is the attitude of the older brother of the penitent prodigal son (Luke 15). Look as his heart. He was quite content to ignore his brother’s behavior in the foreign land. But when the prodigal returned, his self-centered heart became obvious. Tragically some in the church can so easily ignore brethren who have gone astray, and deep in their hearts hope they do not have to deal with them if they return. They are truly self-centered!
Some are ashamed of the teaching of the Bible and change what they teach to avoid criticism. We live in a land where the attitude which demands political correctness has entered the hearts of some Christians. This attitude seeks to avoid all confrontation with error. (The blessing of church problems is clearly shown in 1 Cor. 11:19). There are those who want peace whatever the cost.
In the first century, there were those who sought to compromise the truth about religious circumcision. They were fearful that the consequence of the apostles’ teaching would create more opposition and hardship from the Jews. They wanted peace above everything and changed their teachings (Gal. 6:12).
How does the Bible describe those who will not stand for truth? There is a remarkable phrase used by God which graphically depicts them. When men take God off of the throne and replace Him with their self-centered desires, God is no longer God. David’s brothers removed God from His place and put their own needs first. The older brother rejected the heart of his father and replaced his father’s wishes with his own desires. Those who changed God’s teaching about circumcision no longer had the God of truth on the throne. What is that phrase God used to describe them? Their god is their own belly (Phil. 3:19). Wow! Think about it!