Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
We live in an age of constant boasting. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram provide us with a platform through which we relentlessly show off the most impressive moments of our lives to a list of pixilated “friends.” We brag about our food instead of eating it. We aggrandize our vacations instead of enjoying them. We advertise for products we don’t need (purchased with money we probably don’t have). We bluster about who we’re hanging out with, even when we don’t know them very well. All in the name of proving ourselves to the world. Such is the backwards-ness of our digitalized boasting.
However, as Sunday approaches, let’s take some time to put down our phones. Turn off the screen and wipe its pale glow from your face long enough for it to be replaced by the type of glow that must be veiled this side of heaven (cf. Ex. 34:34-35, 2 Co. 3:7). If you want to know that kind of glory, you’ll want to pay attention, because that’s exactly what God is offering us. He is giving us a better reason to boast.
God Is Serious About Our Worship
As beings hardwired by God for worship, we can’t not boast in something. We were made to recognize glory and celebrate it. But something has gone terribly wrong in us. Our hearts are corrupted by sin, and we can’t tell the difference between true glory and its counterfeits. Our first parents, Adam and Eve, seized an opportunity to boast in themselves instead of God. And the world has been characterized by ungodly boasting ever since.
But God is holding reality out before us. He decries all false boasting and exposes it for what it is, so we can see clearly. He wants us to know that our idols are a trap and they will ruin us. But through the Gospel, He helps sinners like you and I identify our folly so we can repent of it and trust Him with Spirit-wakened hearts of faith. Only then will we be liberated from boasting in the delusions of our wisdom, our might, and our riches. Therefore, we must reject the world’s forgeries and embrace the all-glorious, breathtaking alternative of understanding and knowing God through worship.
In fact, the manner in which God reveals Himself shows just how serious He is about our worship. Out of the endless immensity of His nature and character, His grace flows into our lives, inviting us to taste and see that He is good (Ps. 34:8). And as we worship Him, we realize more and more that He’s the God “who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness,” delighting in those who seek to know and understand Him (Jer. 9:24). Our false boasting could never create that kind of experience, because idols can’t delight.
How Crucified People Boast
God’s ultimate display of His character–the means by which we can know Him more fully–is the in the death of His Son at Calvary. If we want to find legitimate grounds for boasting, we must go there. At the cross, God’s steadfast love, justice, and righteousness coalesce in the salvation of low-lifes. And through it, glory thieves like you and I can be renewed. This is why the apostle Paul said,
“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.” (Gal. 6:14-15)
That’s how crucified people boast. Knowing what counts most, they are the resonance of God’s new creation in the world today.
The old you, the you that loved worldliness, is pushing up daisies. For God has redeemed us from self-promotion to self-forgetting love for Christ. With hearts full of the Spirit, we come alive as we boast in the Good News of Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Co. 2:2). And this, my brothers and sisters, is precisely why we gather. Each Sunday, we assemble to exult in the Lord Jesus over and against the world’s lofty speech or wisdom, even if we look like fools. In fact, Paul says elsewhere,
“God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” (1 Co. 1:28-31)
For those who treasure the Gospel, this is the only boast that matters. The world can perceive us how it may. We are too busy joyfully heeding Paul’s words to care.
LifePoint, far be it from us to come to church this Sunday boasting in anything but the finished work of the cross. We are freed from exaggerating our own importance to lay everything at the throne of sovereign grace. Remember, while worldly boasting may offer you occasional moments of flattery, it can’t help one whit to satisfy your hungry soul. Only Christ can do that. And He will do it forever.
So will you log out of whatever media platform you might be glued to at the moment? Will you happily enter into His presence with empty hands and an open heart, ready to be satisfied by His love? Will you lift your voice this Sunday to fill the air with your emphatic boast? And, before then, will you take some time to cultivate your heart to know and understand God more fully? I pray your answer to these questions will be, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Liturgy for Sunday, March 22, 2015:
Call to Worship:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1 4-5, 14)
Confession & Assurance:
Hide your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you. (Psalm 51:9-13)
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Romans 15:13)
You can also follow the Spotify playlist for this Sunday.