By Shai Linn
This weekend I graduated from Faith Bible Seminary with a Master of Divinity. Sounds important, eh? No, I am not more divine! It was quiet the accomplishment 6-years in the making. I started taking classes in 2004 at BBS and finish the last 3 years at FSB. I am grateful for the spiritual growth from digging deep into God’s Word. However, the more that I study God’s Word the more I have come to realize and appreciate that there is a whole lot more to know about God and His Word. I have just touched the base of the mountain of God’s glory in His Word. I cannot wait to spend the rest of my life unpacking and applying His Truth to my life.
Now it could be really easy to sit on top of my puny pedestal boasting and bragging about my brains, brawn and bucks. Sure I might have expanded my brain since pre-school with books, papers, and higher education, but that doesn’t give me the right to flex those intellectual muscles [personally, I think they are quite flabby].
What does it mean to brag and boast? To think you are above others in attitude and action. Sure you may have Bucks, Brains or Braun, but compared to whom? Where is the ultimate source of all things? What about boasting in God?
This is a reason why most rap music drives me bananas. Some rap artists would say boasting about yourself is built into rap. It’s common for a rap artist to talk up his skills, his money, or his sexual conquests. Even some Christian rappers jump on the boasting bandwagon. However, there is some radical rap that rocks the name of Christ:
What is a boaster and bragger to do? Turn boasting about your own greatness into boasting about God’s greatness: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord” [2 Corinthians 10:17]. Paul even went as far as to boast in how weak he was, because he knew God’s strength could fill in for his own failure [2 Corinthians 12:5].
I can’t claim bragging rights about everything I’ve done, am doing, or will do in my life [cf. Philippians 3:1-11]. Any accomplishment I claim must give glory to the God who is the source. Compared to God I see my imperfection and His perfection. Compared to God I see His holiness and my need for forgiveness. Compared to God I can only claim bragging rights about God. As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:29-31: “It is because of [God] 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 [in Jeremiah 9:24]: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
We see in these three short verses that God’s source of any significant spiritual change. “It is because of [God] that you are in Christ Jesus.” God Himself is the means and motivation for our salvation. He has claimed me, He called me, He comforted me, and by the faith “in Christ” He has given me salvation.
Now the Corinthians Paul was writing to were know for their boasting in wisdom. The Corinthians were consumed with wisdom, which they seemed to have equated with their salvation. However, Paul poo-poo’s their pride party by repeatedly emphasizing that Jesus Christ is God’s wisdom. If you love wisdom, you will love Jesus. Why? Because in Christ, God gives us “righteousness, holiness and redemption.”
In those three words [righteousness, holiness, and redemption], God has given us in Christ a reason to boast. First, righteousness is a legal metaphor meaning in Christ believers have been declared innocent of sin. Second, holiness is a religious metaphor meaning that in Christ believers are been set apart like God. Third, redemption is a marketplace metaphor meaning that in Christ He has purchased my freedom from the power of sin.
When I look at all that God has done for me in Christ I am awed. And so should our response be, “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” I have nothing to boast about before God, except what God has done for us in Christ. He is the source of all my bucks, brains and brawn. Only God is the omnipotent and omniscient Creator. He is the means, source and end of all things [cf. Romans 11:36].
“Let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.” – Jeremiah 9:24