“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 ESV).
Years ago I watched a documentary on Muhammad Ali. I remember him boasting loudly about being the greatest. Of course he’s not the only one who’s skill was only exceeded by his or her pride.
And pride is not restricted to sports icons, and the rich and famous. We in the Church have seen pride topple ministries large and small alike. Scripture warns against it.
Surprisingly, however, God doesn’t prohibit boasting. In fact, He encourages it! The scope of such boasting is clearly laid out in scripture. Our boasts have absolutely nothing to do with our strength or ability. Scripture plainly teaches that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18 ESV). Instead, our boast should only ever be about the Lord. Jesus taught us that, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5 ESV).
So how are we encouraged to boast? “Let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me.” Implicit in this charge is a level of intimacy that exceeds the “average” Christian. What are we each doing to develop that kind of intimacy?
The Lord, speaking through the prophet Jeremiah, shares His heart, and in doing so gives us insight into how we can get to know Him more fully. He says that the person who understands and knows Him is acutely aware of the things that are important to Him: “that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
Many years ago I read The Language of Love by Gary Smalley and John Trent. In the book they stated that everyone has a love language, the thing or things that make them feel loved. For some people it is affirmation. For some it is acts of service, etc. The point was that as we get to know others we demonstrate our love in the manner that most touches their hearts.
When we get to know the heart of God, we should then demonstrate our love for Him in ways that reflect His heart, we practice “steadfast love, justice and righteousness.” And in doing so, we learn all the more deeply, that our only boast is Him.
Paul spoke about it in 2 Corinthians. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord” (2 Corinthians 10:17 ESV). “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” (2 Corinthians 11:30 ESV). And “…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 of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV).
The more closely I get to know God, the less inclined I am to think more highly of myself than I should (Romans 12:3), and the more I recognize that the only good in me comes directly from Him (Romans 7:18).
So, we should make our boast in the Lord, sharing with the world His delights.
Blessings on your day!