What are you living for today? What drives your life? All men have a particular drive that wakes them up in the morning and fills their dreams through the night. We all live for something, right or wrong. And often, this thing we live for will become the object of our boasting. Some people live for intellectual supremacy, to be the best in their fields of learning. Others live for sports, and others for countless other earthly achievements. These preoccupations are not bad in and of themselves but should never be treated as if they could ever see past the grave in the grand plan of things. They are temporary and passing, and so is any boast placed upon them.
But one way or another, we’re all guilty of placing too much significance on life’s fleeting treasures. In response, God warns, “…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” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
Boast Not In Worldly Wisdom
Many might find it hard to accept, but this world’s wisdom is not the ultimate wisdom. “For the foolishness of God,” Paul wrote, “is wiser than that of men, and the weakness of God is stronger than that of men” (1 Corinthians 1:25). Thus, the world’s most learned men and women are no match for the folly of God if there were to be any. Of course Paul does not mean that God would possibly have any foolishness in him. He uses the language to show the unbridgeable gap between creature and Creator. In the gospel narrative, we see best how God’s folly confounds the wise of this world. Jesus, God the Son, came from heaven, took the form of man, died on the cross, descended into darkness, and conquered death, hell and the grave so that he could secure eternity for sinful, hell-bound men. To some, this news is laughable, but the gospel remains the most prized ‘foolishness’ man must embrace to become wise. No education stands before the face of the Majesty and proclaims, ‘Forgiven! Accepted!” Only the gospel does that, and God accepts its pardon.
Boast Not In Human Might
Human strength may thrill, but it does not last forever. Men and women with unimaginable exploits have come and gone, for even the strongest die. As Moses (Exodus 14:1-31), Gideon (Judges 7:1-25), Joshua (Joshua 6:1-25) and Samson (Judges 16:23-31) found out, human strength and wit can avail nothing in the battle of life.
The only strength able to stand in our defence is the weakness and humility portrayed in the Lamb of God slain for our sin. The Lamb, though weak outwardly, was strong enough to hold back the mighty wrath of God meted out upon every human, the weak and strong alike.
Boast Not in Earthly Riches
Because wealth is sinfully revered, it is, to many, a source of control. But the Bible teaches that wealth is neither a preserve for the wicked nor a mark of the godly. On the contrary, it is God who gives the ability to make wealth (Deuteronomy 8:18) to sinner and saint alike.
Even though we should be careful about money, we shouldn’t shy from wealth as if it were inherently sinful. It was God who blessed Abraham and Lot (Genesis 13:12), Isaac and Jacob (Genesis 26:13, 30:25-43), and David and his son Solomon (1 Chronicles 29:28-30, 2 Chronicles 9:13-29) with wealth.
Yet Christ offered much more by doing the Father’s good pleasure even when it cost him his life (Luke 22:42). He extended to us the most desirable wealth ever—life forever—received by grace alone through the sacrifice of Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 3:13). God is not impressed by the earthly, stunning affluence of dying men! He is only pleased when we come to Him by grace through faith.
Boast in Knowing the Lord
If we must boast, it should only be in the fact that we know God (Jeremiah 9:24). Although, of course, the true measure of our knowledge is in obedient lifestyles, that begins by knowing God as his word reveals him.
A God of steadfast love – “For God so loved the world…” (John 3:16). “I [God] have loved you with an everlasting love” (Jeremiah 31:3). And in countless more passages of the Bible we find this same assurance echoed–that God loves steadfastly, pursuing us even to the depths of sin, and scandalously even by how he shows his mercy in general ways to sinner and saint alike.
A God of justice (Exodus 34:7) – He judged the first family in the Garden for their sinful rebellion, a rebellion whose deserved weight of wrath was entirely borne on the Cross by God’s very own Son. God will never let sin stand in his presence and disregard it as wishful thinking the way some do. He assures that he will settle all accounts on judgment day. Not one sin will escape his justice.
A God of righteousness – Christ never had a millisecond of a lustful thought or rebellion all his life. He is robbed in righteousness and readily imputes it on us without pay. Like Paul (Philippians 3:1-10), we are wise to seek the righteousness that is not self-made but imputed to us through Christ (Psalms 132:9).
How Then Must We Live?
We ought to glorify God in all our endeavours. When we don’t, we dig up cisterns which will never satisfy (Jeremiah 2:13). To Christ alone must we turn for he alone is the well from which if we drink we will never thirst again (John 4:14). Our earthly lives are fleeting. If by the time we breathe our last, all our boasting will have been in things that perish, we will have missed the whole point of life. Jim Elliot famously said, “He is not a fool who loses what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” So lose your earthly, fickle, passing, perishing, destructible, finite, dung-like boast and press on to know the Lord (Philippians 3:14). He alone is worth making our lifelong boast (1 Corinthians 1:31).