To Boast in Someone not Yourself

To Boast in Someone not Yourself February 8, 2016

To Boast in Someone not Yourself – Galatians 6:11-18

“God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 14).

I’d like to talk about boasting this morning.  Sorry, guys, but I’m going to start with us.  We just seem to boast a lot more noisily, obviously, and in your face than women do.  What’s the first impulse of a guy who’s just scored a touchdown?  There’s a reason the NFL has had to enact fines and penalties for celebrating in the end zone.  It strikes me as a little odd, not to say humorous, that in a high testosterone sport where “killing” the other guy is kind of the point and crippling injuries are routine that there would be a penalty simply for celebrating in the end zone.  Isn’t that every man’s right after a heroic conquest?  And isn’t that what sports, especially like football, are about?

And don’t get me started about the trash talking in the NBA!  Isn’t it natural for men to boast about their exploits and even to exaggerate them?

Guys like to boast.  I imagine that when Alexander the Great won the battle of Gaugamela and the treasures of the Persian Empire were opened to him that he celebrated.  I’m sure he was whooping it up with the boys and boasting about his exploits.  Even the Israelites were known to boast.  Even the Israelite women danced and sang as they boasted that “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands.  Whooo-aaahh!”

Lesser mortals find lesser ways to boast.  I remember playing Nerf basketball in the basement of our house in Long Island growing up, imaging that I scored 30 points in a game and celebrating every Nerf basket as if it were the real thing.  Although I rarely boast publicly, I still find petty ways to boast to myself, which is where I usually do my best boasting because there is no one other than myself to say, “Get a life!”  Often, my tendons and ligaments and muscles ache from patting myself on the back for my small conquests.  After Jackie has gone to bed and a few dishes haven’t been done or the trash emptied, and after she has done the lion’s share of the work, I secretly complete the job for her and whisper to myself, “What a good boy am I!”

More seriously, we all find ways to boast in our own accomplishments.  The bewitchers of the Galatians at least partially wanted the Galatians to return to the bondage of the Law so that they could boast.  Even when we perform good works for the Lord, or, more properly, He has performed His good works through these imperfect vessels, we boast as if we are the ones who have done it.  I believe this is a temptation once we begin to keep score at home about how many people our church is now attracting or how many people we have led to Christ or witnessed to.

Paul, who humanly speaking had reason to boast on account of his extraordinary missionary work and heroic exploits, refused to boast in anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Paul is poetic in his expression; it’s a thing of beauty and a joy forever to see how he takes the sinful human tendency to boast and allows one ironic exception.  That one exception is that we get to boast in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Ironic, because we get to boast, not in ourselves but only in our Lord.  Ironic, because the one thing we get to boast about is the suffering of our Lord and our suffering with Him.

Whooo-aaahh!”

Sorry guys – and girls – as Christians there’s only one thing you get to boast about – and that’s the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But what a wonderful thing to boast about!  I get to boast that I was a miserable sinner (and still am) but that through this Cross, which has become the Tree of Life, I now live.  I get to boast that I get to boast about my God who loved so much that He became a man and loved so much more that He was born in a humble birth and kept on loving to His death, even the death on the Cross.

I have a choice: I get to boast as a Christian about the many things Christ does for me or boast as a non-Christian about all of the selfish things I’m able to do without Him.  Let me see. . .  what to choose . . .  what to choose?   . . . .  Don’t rush me!

The truth is that being a Christian means that I have died and it’s now Christ who lives in me.  Therefore, He is the only person I can boast about, and His deeds the only deeds of which I can boast.

The really cool thing, however, is that I am now, if I lay down my life and my boasting, a participant in those glorious and heroic deeds of His.  Everything He has, He shares with me, and this is precisely the kind of heroic love that is worth celebrating: God become man to share Himself with us and redeem us.

I have a part in this Person worth boasting about: His Cross is my cross, and my cross is His Cross.  This means, however, that I must die.  I must mortify the Old Man, I must crucify the boaster within me.  It means that as He lived and died and lives for me, I must die and live for Him, and that comes at the cost of the Cross.  I, too, will experience suffering on His behalf.  But even this is part of His Cross that I will boast in.

To boast in Christ and His Cross is to mock Satan and fallen men, who cannot understand such wisdom.  “Look at the girly-men,” they say.  “All they have to boast in is defeat and love and slavery to God.”  To boast in the Cross, the way of the Cross and Jesus Christ, is to boast in the most heroic thing a human can do: to choose to serve God instead of self.  Any girly-man can be selfish.  Some, like Alexander and Napoleon and Hitler, may boast in their conquering vast portions of the world; some, like Donald Trump, Warren Buffet, Carlos Slim, and Mukesh Ambani, may boast in their conquering of the financial world; some boast in their mock-heroic athletic exploits; and some boast in their Nerf-basketball conquests or the equivalent.

But this is easy to do, to boast in something that makes you feel good and is all about yourself.  If you want to be a real man, then pick up the Cross daily and when God performs His daily miracles through you give all of the glory to God.  If you want to be a real woman – do the same.

Boasting in self is for girly-men and weak women.  If you want to be a true man or woman, that is, one re-united to God through the Cross and the Resurrection, then boast only in Christ and His Cross.

Whooo-aaahh!”

Prayer:  Grant, O Lord, that as we are baptized into the death of thy blessed Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, so by continual mortifying our corrupt affections we may be buried with him; and that through the grave and gate of death, we may pass to our joyful resurrection; for his merits, who died, and was buried, and rose again for us, the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen. 

Point for Meditation:  What does it mean to “boast” in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ?  What are some practical ways you could celebrate Christ and His Cross today? 

Resolution:  I resolve to find one way today to pick up the cross that the Lord has given me.  In doing so, I resolve to boast or rejoice in the Cross that Christ bore for me. 

 

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