Boast in the Lord | April 19th, 2023
I was sitting in on a personal trainers’ meeting, listening to a slick, fast-talking salesman tell us the best ways to increase sales for ourselves and for the gym where we worked. All I remember from that meeting was how boastful he was. He bragged about his many achievements – how good he was at sales, how much money he made using his great ideas, what a hard worker he was, how much people liked him, and on and on. If he gave us any tips about how to boost our sales, I don’t remember because all I could think about was how arrogant he came across!
We probably all know someone who likes to boast about their talents, strength, connections, success, money, intellect, you name it. It is rampant in our world and especially on social media. Most likely, we too have been boastful without a second thought.
Our society is obsessed with self. We love sharing our latest, greatest achievement with the rest of the world because we think we have done something that deserves recognition. We seek an identity for ourselves and look to others to validate us, telling us how amazing we are to give us a boost in our confidence.
Boasting in ourselves is incompatible with the Christian life where our identity is in Christ, not in the approval of others. It is prideful and God hates pride as it is the root cause of all forms of sin. Instead, we are called to boast in the Lord. There is nothing we have done or can do that comes anywhere close to what Christ has done for us. And anything we’ve accomplished for Him is due to God’s supernatural power working through us. He alone is worthy of glory.
Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23-24
Boast in the Cross of Christ
When we boast in the Lord, we are boasting in His attributes (holiness, love, truth, goodness, etc.), what He has done for us, what He is doing now, and what He has promised to do. Central to all of this is the cross.
The Apostle Paul declared that he boasted in nothing but the cross of Christ – not even what God had accomplished through him. He knew that everything we have is only possible because Jesus died on the cross for our sins to set us free from condemnation. Paul looked upon everything else in his life as having no value compared to knowing Christ, so he was willing to give up everything else to know Him.
But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. Galatians 6:14
In The Cross, Welsh Protestant minister Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899 –1981) explains why Paul boasted in the cross alone:
Paul glories in the cross, because it is through and from the cross that everything becomes possible, and all the blessings of the Christian life are laid open before us. The cross is the door that leads to all blessings. Without it there is nothing. Without the cross and all it means, we have no blessings from God at all. But the cross opens the possibility to all of the endless blessings of the glorious God.
The mark of a true Christian is having no confidence in the flesh. (Philippians 3:3) We have absolutely nothing to boast of in ourselves. However, we are still subject to being tempted by the enemy who works relentlessly to divert our attention and affections away from Christ. He is especially thrilled when we are focused on ourselves.
Those who are in the flesh cannot please God. Romans 8:8
We Fall Short
If our strongest desires and everyday delights are to be in Christ rather than being focused on getting glory for ourselves, we must be saturated in the Word of God. Satan would love nothing more than to keep us as believers in ignorance so we feel incompetent to share the Good News of the gospel with others or be so self-focused that we’ve lost interest in sharing it. The Word reminds us of our dependence on Him and not on ourselves. It is all because of Christ that we can do anything at all!
The cross is the best reminder of our inability to be able to boast in ourselves. Apart from Jesus’ death on the cross, we, as sinners, get only judgment and condemnation. Everything we enjoy as a follower of Christ is owed to the suffering He endured to pay for our sins by His precious blood. If we have anything to rejoice in, it should be in the cross from where all of our blessings come!
We often take our life, health, friends, provisions, and so much more for granted. We think we have earned it. But we are so undeserving of any of it! It is all by God’s grace and His deep love for us that we have anything good at all. Each one of us is a sinner who has fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23). We only deserve the wrath of His justice. Therefore, every breath we take, every second our heart beats, every day we wake up to the rising sun, and every moment we experience getting to see or hear is an undeserved gift bought for us by Jesus Christ through His death on the cross.
God’s Power in Our Weakness
The Lord works through the weak to reveal His power so that no one can boast before Him. He chooses those who seem foolish to the world to shame the wise and the weak to shame the strong. (1 Corinthians 1:27). We are frail and feeble vessels, formed out of the dust of the earth, that God uses to share the treasure of the gospel as a light to others. Isn’t that amazing? It is through our weakness that God shows His power!
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 2 Corinthians 4:6-7
Theologian Albert Barnes (1798 –1870) explains it well…
He often makes use of the most feeble, and unlearned, and weak of his servants to accomplish the greatest effects. It is not splendid talents, or profound learning, or distinguished eloquence, that is always or even commonly most successful. Often the ministry of such is entirely barren; while some humble and obscure man shall have constant success, and revivals shall attend him wherever he goes. It is the man of faith, and prayer, and self-denial, that is blessed; and the purpose of God in the ministry, as in everything else, is to “stain the pride of all human glory,” and to show that he is all in all.
Paul understood this concept when he wrote:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
The victory over sin through Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection three days later made a way for us to have a relationship with Him. When we believe in Him as the perfect atonement for our sin, He sees us as pure and righteous. He removes our sin, fully forgives us, and places His righteousness upon us so we can have eternal life. There is nothing we have done or can do in our own efforts to be able to boast in earning our salvation. Jesus did it all!
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Give God the Glory
As a representative of Christ, it is so important to honor God in everything we say (or post) and not exalt ourselves. He alone is worthy of our praise. Getting approval from others will never fulfill our deepest longings because they are satisfied in God alone. Everything we have been given to make us whole is because of the cross of Christ.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31
Why do we strive for the emptiness in all that the world promises when Christ has given His very life for us? Our fleeting riches, failing bodies, and rusting trophies are so not worthy of our affections! If we boast at all, may it be in the cross of Christ through which we are given the greatest promise of eternal life because of His sacrificial love and abundant grace.
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