Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Boasting

In my Bible reading this morning I came across Jeremiah 9:23-24.
"Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the Lord.
I also thought about Galatians 6:14, one of my favorite verses.
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.
The idea of boasting gripped me because just last night I was reading Paul David Tripp's book for pastors, Dangerous Calling, in which he says, "You are constantly preaching to yourself some kind of gospel."

I think there's a connection between the things we boast in and the gospel we believe.

Look around and you'll see all sorts of human boasting. Bumper stickers parading our outstanding kids or righteous convictions... fast, shiny new cars that bury us in debt... shouts of "We're Number One!" from the football stands... exaggerated fish stories... immodest or loud clothing... talking too much... Why, even photos of smiling family members set on display in our office can be our way of telling untrue stories about how great we are.

I look at my own heart and find that I boast in jobs well done, sermons well preached, counseling sessions well run. I generally boast in things that bring me the praise of man. Conversely, my regrets and griefs generally revolve around personal failures, mistakes, and foul-ups.

The common denominator: ME. God is not even in the equation.

Jeremiah admonishes me not to boast in things that bring me attention, admiration, and power, but to boast in the astonishing fact that I know God. Or as Galatians 4:9 points out, the even more astonishing idea that I am known by God!

As long as I preach to myself the "gospel" of good works and accomplishments, I am set up for disappointment. Because the bar is too high. I can never be good enough to satisfy the voracious appetite of pride. There will always be someone out there better than me. I will fail. In less than an hour, or sooner.

But the gospel of Jesus says that Someone who is perfect has gone to bat for me, has fully paid for all my sins, and has satisfied on my behalf the one Being in the universe whose opinion really matters. The struggle for significance is over. It's done. If I want to boast in anything, I can boast in my weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9). I'm free! I can be small, and obscure, and unknown, because my identity is rooted not in what I do but in the fact that I'm a loved, forgiven, adopted, justified, redeemed, rescued, secure child of God.

May I never boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 

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