The Jews in Paul’s day took pride in the fact that they were God’s Chosen People. Many of them thought that by the fact of their birth to Jewish parents and the ceremony of circumcision (performed by their parents), they were both acceptable to God and better than others.But Paul takes issue with this complacency. You are not truly a Jew just because of your birth to Jewish parents or your circumcision by them, he says. A true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. True circumcision is not just obeying the letter of the law; it is a change of heart, produced by God’s Spirit. And once God’s Spirit has changed the heart, a person will seek the approval of God, rather than the approval of man. (Paraphrased from Romans 2:25-29 NLT)
Many years before, when the prophet Samuel looked at the tall, handsome elder sons of Jesse, thinking that God wanted one of them to be king in place of Saul, God had told him that “Man looks on the outward appearance, but God sees the heart.” God had chosen David, the youngest, whose heart was right with God. And then, when Samuel anointed David, God’s Spirit came upon him from that time forward.
And so we come to the point at which we realize that God is not looking for a certain race of people, and He is not looking for a certain type of performance. He is looking for changed hearts, of both Jews and Gentiles, of both Christians and non-Christians, of both good people and bad people. These changes can only be made by His Spirit.
The distinctions that mattered so much to us before, do not matter to God. He looks at the heart, and He longs to change hearts by His Spirit, to make them like His own. And one of the signs of a changed heart is that we change our focus from the approval of men and seek the approval of God. As J D Greear says in his beautiful Gospel Prayer–“Your Presence and approval are all that I need for everlasting joy.”