That Awkward Moment When . . .

When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.”—Galatians 2:11–13 (NIV)

Awkward moments happen every day. Today, we’re going to take a look at one of the most awkward moments in the Bible. So, what happened here? Basically Paul, in front of a crowded room, got everyone’s attention and confronted Peter on his cowardice and hypocrisy. 

This shows me two things. First, if you want to be free, you have to be brave. Let’s be honest, it took a lot of guts for Paul to do what he did. Do you think staring down Peter in front of all those people was easy? No way. It took courage. But the price of freedom will always involve bravery.

And what Peter did—ignoring his Gentile friends and acting like a hypocrite—he did out of fear, which is the opposite of bravery. But here’s the thing: Anytime you operate out of fear instead of faith, you make yourself a slave. In this case, Peter’s fear made him a people-pleaser, pleasing the crowd. In doing so, he gave people power over him. 

And because this happened to Peter, these “certain men” essentially dictated how he would treat people, people who he had been treating the right way . . . and now he was treating them the wrong way. Which leads to the second thing this passage shows: There will always be collateral damage where there is hypocrisy.

Peter had a lot of influence. Since others followed his lead, other Jewish believers fell into hypocrisy because of his actions. Even worse, “Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.”

Barnabas planted this church! But now, he would not eat with people who he had led to Christ, who he saw all the time, prayed with, and spent time out with! 

Friends, God hates hypocrisy. He’s into sincerity. Because when we’re sincere, we’re giving God room to work. We’re admitting we NEED Him because we don’t have it all together, because we fall short and make mistakes. But when we’re disingenuous, when we’re hypocrites who put on a show of being perfect, we leave God no room to work in us! Where there’s hypocrisy, there will always be hurt.

So, let’s walk in sincerity. Let’s avoid the pitfalls Peter fell for and walk in courage and freedom like Paul. Otherwise, people will get hurt and so will our witness. 

DIG: Why did Peter suddenly start acting this way? 

DISCOVER: How have you seen hypocrisy and fear impact your life or the lives of others?

DO: In Philippians 1:10 (MSG), Paul challenges believers, saying, “You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere.” Do this today!

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.