January 2020: When it's OK to boast
Updated: Jul 8, 2021
“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 practises steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” - Jeremiah 9 v 23-24
Some people love to boast. They love to brag about all of their achievements and abilities and most of us hate listening to them. We cringe when a person goes on in detail about all of the wonderful things they have done and all of their amazing gifts. The Bible condemns this kind of boasting also. The type of proud boasting that directs the attention towards the person rather than the Lord. God even saves by grace, 'so that no one may boast', (Ephesians 2 v 9). However, there is a kind of boasting that God encourages. This boasting is not a boasting in ourselves but instead boasting in God. In Jeremiah's day the people of God had turned away from their Lord and followed the false Gods of the other nations. They would eventually go into exile as a punishment for their idolatry and all the sins they committed as a result. God says their boast should have been in the fact that they knew him, for there is no greater privilege. This same idea is repeated by Paul in the New Testament, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord,' (1 Cor 1 v 31).
We can boast in him because he is the Lord of all creation who rules over all things. We can boast in him is because he alone is worthy of our boasting. Jeremiah describes him as the God who practices 'steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the Earth.' That is a God worth boasting in! He is the good God who alone is worthy of our praise. We also boast in him because he has saved us and our salvation was not because of our goodness but because of his grace. We can only be saved because of Jesus, who came to the earth to live, to die for our sins and to rise again. It is only by faith in him that we can know God and be with him.
Paul writes in Galatians 6, 'Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world was crucified to me and I to the world', (v10). In the year ahead lets be people who boast not in ourselves but who boast in Christ and who direct attention away from ourselves towards Jesus who alone is worthy of praise, worship and glory.