Wednesday, October 07, 2015

In Christ...Boast

            People love to boast. We like to talk smack. We enjoy promoting ourselves. We seem to think that we can lift ourselves up best by tearing other people down. We boast to let others know that we must be taken seriously. We boast as a way to express our trust in ourselves. And that leads to all sorts of problems, for trusting in yourself is not how God plans for you to make it through life!

Here is what God told Jeremiah to tell his people Israel: This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 9:23-24) This warning was (and IS) necessary because people seem to have an insatiable desire to trust in themselves and what they can accomplish!

This desire to trust in self was certainly active in the life of Paul on the day he met Jesus. He was “advancing beyond others his age in Judaism.” He was on a mission to arrest and punish Christians, whom he believed were guilty of blasphemy. When Jesus appeared to Paul he “fell to the ground” both literally and metaphorically. On that day Paul started learning what it means to boast in Jesus and not in himself!

In writing to the Christians in his beloved Philippi Paul said: “We boast in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” Yet Paul could remember when he placed great confidence in the flesh and he knew why! He continued: If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.”(Philippians 3:4-6) Paul had an amazing pedigree! He also had some great accomplishments! He was willing to stack his profile up against anyone who was willing to challenge him. If the game was trusting in self, then Paul was well prepared to play.

But Paul also knew that the game of trusting in self is a fool’s game. Jesus taught him that and he learned the lesson well. He continues: But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. (Philippians 3:7-9) Paul wanted to make his life a success and he clearly understood that the only way to do that was to trust in Christ! Paul’s trust was amazing…

·         I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. (Galatians 2:20) 

·         From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus. (Galatians 6:17)

·         Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. (Colossians 1:24)

What do you boast in? Anything but Jesus will turn out to be an empty boast!

- Kenny Payne

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