No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man's praise is not from men, but from God.
What is meant by circumcision of the heart?
I have often wondered about the act of physical circumcision as a sign of the covenant between God and Abraham.
Circumcision is a cutting away of skin that is not really necessary. Unnecessary, perhaps--but that skin is attached to the very “man-ness” of a man. Therefore, the act of circumcision requires cutting away what is not vital, but what is near to what is arguably most vital to a man.
In a sense, God asked the Israelites to trust Him with their manhood, to risk losing it as they submitted to Him. God asked Abraham and his seed to trust Him enough to wound them in the most intimate place.
Perhaps that reveals something about circumcision of the heart. God asks me to trust Him enough to wound me in my most vulnerable place for the purpose of removing that which seems important, but is really not necessary.
He asks me to be willing to be different from those around me in a dramatic way. (There was no denying you were an Israelite in the men’s locker room!) Essentially, I have to trust God enough that I am willing to risk the very things that I think define me.
Oh, that He would help me to trust Him enough to expose my vulnerable heart, even knowing that a wound is coming. My trust should be that great because I know that He loves me. I know that if He wounds me, He will feel the pain as well. He will only inflict those wounds that are for my best. Most importantly, no wound that He inflicts on me could be as great as the wounds He first bore for me.
Nowadays, circumcision is much more common, but it is performed for reasons of hygiene rather than religion. If not kept meticulously clean, the foreskin can become infected, horribly so. It became the practice to it cut away at birth to eliminate the warm, moist environment so conducive to infection.
There is a parallel there as well. Those unnecessary things around my heart, which I think “protect” it, can actually provide a breeding ground for bitterness and decay. How much better to cut them away completely. Yes, I will be more “exposed,” feel more vulnerable, but there will be no more danger of rotting.
Oh, Lord, circumcise my heart! Give me a willingness to trust You enough to wound me if doing so makes me wholly Yours.