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Pastoral 2018

Boasting in the LORD


The psalmist David said, “My soul shall make her boast in the LORD” (Psalm 34:2). Similarly, in another psalm it is said, “In God we boast all the day long, and praise thy name for ever. Selah” (Psalm 44:8). “Boasting” in the Lord is all about duly and joyfully acknowledging and exalting the Lord above oneself and everything else. It is about rejoicing in the Lord and all that He has done. An elevated feeling of gratitude, praise and rejoicing overwhelms the man who boasts in the Lord, and he spontaneously and sincerely exalts the Lord.

Since the soul that boasts in the Lord is most concerned about the Lord’s praise, it will be least concerned about its own glory. When the glory of the Lord is the soul’s uppermost passion, the soul boasts in nothing but the Lord alone. That soul will be selfdenying and full of thanksgiving before the Lord. As one strives to give all glory to God, not only will arrogance and self-glorying dissipate, God’s praise alone will also fill one’s mouth all the time. The passion of every Christian then is to boast in the Lord!

Scripture instructs us, through many exhortations and examples, how we ought to boast or glory in the Lord.

Boast in the Knowledge of the Lord

The Lord has declared, “let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD” (Jeremiah 9:24).

Intellectual apprehension of the truth of God and His character is an absolute necessity to engender pure, genuine boasting. The people who have neglected or forsaken the Lord have nothing at all to really boast about. Their boasting is in vain! Their confidence in themselves – be it in their own knowledge or strength or riches – would prove futile. Only the knowledge and experience of God and His goodness provide steadfast rejoicing. There is no greater glory than that we live to know God, who has made us for His glory.

The only appropriate basis for boasting is that a person knows and understands the Lord and His greatness, even His “lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness”. Real, perfect lasting glory belongs to God, and only in Him can there be legitimate boasting. Only in the Lord can His people find unfailing love, judgment and righteousness, which can grant them satisfaction, confidence, hope and joy. Only those who are given to enjoy God’s great glory can really have reason for proper glorying or boasting. As the Westminster Catechism states, “The chief end of man is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” Until man subjects his passion and power to the glory and joy in the Lord, he has nothing worthy of boasting. True glory of man comes about only when he has known his glorious God.

Much of the religiosity of our time is generated through the use of sensory appeals in church worship services. It is built upon the philosophy of getting people to attain emotional elation. Very little is achieved when it comes to filling the minds of the people with the sacred knowledge of God with clarity and precision. The religious “boasting” of many modern churchgoers is spiritually weak, for it is not built on sound knowledge of God’s truth. They are like ancient Israel, whom the prophet Jeremiah rebuked: “For my people is foolish, they have not known me; they are sottish children, and they have none understanding: they are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge” (Jeremiah 4:22). Likewise, the emotionalism of modern churchgoers, being without deep-seated understanding of and total devotion to God’s glorious truths, is nothing but vain boasting!

What are you boasting about? Let it not be in any transient, perishing things of this temporal life, but in the unchanging glorious truths of our eternal God. Do you understand the truth of your God and proclaim it? Does your life show forth His righteousness and lovingkindness? Do you thus glory in the Lord? Rejoice in the Lord’s greatness and His wonderful works in your life!

Boast in the Cross of Christ

Instructively, the apostle Paul, while denouncing the glorying of the Judaizers who had infiltrated the Galatian church, unequivocally declared, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). Here, Paul contrasts his own sentiments and behaviour in relation to the cross of Christ with those of the Judaizers. Those false Jewish teachers taught the people to take glory in ceremonial rites, such as circumcision, as something which would secure and confirm their good standing before God. Instead of totally trusting and rejoicing in the atoning work of Christ on the cross, they foolishly boasted in their own self-righteousness, based on their keeping of religious ceremonies.

So, Paul cautioned the Galatian Christians against glorying in circumcision: “As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ. For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh” (Galatians 6:12-13). One of the reasons why Judaizers despised the cross of Christ (whereby Christ has achieved our redemption), was that they might escape persecution that was unleashed against Christians. They were lovers of themselves and were cowards, having nothing to show for themselves. While they ostentatiously spoke of their preference for circumcision, Paul gloriously spoke rather of his fascination with the perfect work of salvation accomplished on the cross of Christ. Though Christ’s cross was sneered at by the Gentiles and abhorred by the Jews, Paul boasted of its infinite preciousness. It was the cross which had freed him from the servitude and guilt of sin, on top of the Pharisaic Jewish ceremonialism.

As for Paul, everything else in the world pales in significance in the face of the glory of the cross. The world, he says in Galatians 6:14, is to him a thing “crucified”. It has no more attraction for him. He loathes everything that this world presents to him which distracts him from the cross of Christ. “The world” – i.e. the unregenerate men and their distorted philosophy of life – holds no pleasantness or value to Paul. The world’s allurements, fleshly displays and religions of human effort are tossed aside by Paul. The world has become absolutely distasteful and repulsive to him; he is instead totally absorbed by the fascinating glory of Christ and His redemption, which was effected in the cross. Paul thereby boasts in Christ and His cross.

Do you boast of Christ or of your worldly achievements? Do you boast of His cross or of your self-righteousness? What is your greatest fascination – Christ, the flesh or the world?