What do you boast in? That is, what's the source of your feeling good about yourself, feeling adequate and respectable and worthwhile? Whatever it is, it's functioning as your God.
For me, one of several things that I've boasted in for years is my health. My parents had various ailments for much of my life and died in their mid-'70s. I've taken great pride in the fact that I've had low blood pressure, ideal weight, good eyesight, mobility, etc. Well, the day I turned 40 I needed glasses. Now that I'm 52, everything else seems to be deteriorating.
As I write this I am wearing a Holter monitor because my heart seems to have decided to skip a beat every now and then. The cardiologist wants to track it over a 24-hour period. Tomorrow I get a stress test and echocardiogram. A few weeks ago he put me on a cholesterol-lowering medication. My blood pressure seems to be going up too.
"This stinks!! I'm not a person who needs blood pressure medication and all that other stuff. I'm better than those kind of people," I say to myself.
Uh-oh. That kind of thinking shows that I'm trusting in health righteousness, not Christ's righteousness. I'm boasting in something besides Jesus.
Galatians 6:14 says, "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world."
Boasting in anything other than the cross is...idolatry. It's looking to something besides the gospel for things only the gospel can provide. Things like affirmation, security, congruence, fulfillment, a sense that we're loved, valued, and worthwhile.
It's OK to feel good about our health, our kids, our abilities, our job, our possessions, etc. But when those GOOD things become ULTIMATE things, we are putting them in the place of God. And as I'm finding out, non-God things don't last.
Once again, God is teaching me to boast only in the cross.