SIMPLE TRUTH: But, do you know the Lord?

Published 11:12 am Monday, June 16, 2014

By Charles Christmas

God speaks in Jeremiah 9:23 saying, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but 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 the earth, for in these I delight” declares the Lord. The Bible warns against three other things about which we are not to boast: our future plans, man, and self-righteousness. Let’s briefly consider these six things.

Wisdom is commended in Scripture, but the warning is against pride in such. “Jesus increased in wisdom.” The pursuit of wisdom, knowledge, skills, education advancement and discoveries is commendable. But “the beginning of wisdom is reverence for God.” The pursuit of human wisdom never, ever results in knowing God. One only comes to know God through the message of the cross. Submit all human wisdom to God of the cross and use all such achievement in service to him.

Physical strength and care for the human body is commended in the Bible. “Jesus increased in stature.” “Physical exercise has some profit.” Physical training is used in the New Testament as an example of how we should be diligent in pursuing spiritual health and strength and service in our Christian life. But it is the pride and priority on physical strength and activity which can keep a person from knowing and understanding God. A person does not come to know God through physical training, strength and pursuits. “Train yourselves to be Godly. For physical training is of some value, but knowing God has value for all things, holding promise for the present life and for the life to come.”

The Bible has many warnings concerning wealth, but maybe just as many warnings against laziness and a lack of frugality and pursuit of financial independence. It is not wealth that is the problem. You need to understand that it is “God who gives you power to gain wealth.” It is “the love of money which is a root of all kinds of evil.” Any wealth is only a trust from God for a person to oversee for being used in his kingdom and for his glory and honor. Pride in wealth has kept many out of the kingdom of God, and yet the New Testament has many examples of wealthy persons who knew and understood God and used their possessions to the advancement of God’s work and his Great Commission. Such is true today.

Planning ahead and for the future is some sign of maturity and wisdom. The mistake God warns against is boasting or bragging about your future and not including God first and foremost in planning. “Commit your way unto the Lord, trust also in him and he will bring it to pass.” We are warned against making plans apart from seeking God and of not earnestly saying, “If it is the Lord’s will, we shall do this or that.” “Seek his face always.”

We are warned against boasting or bragging about man. “So then, no more boasting about men!” (1 Corinthians 3:17) That boasting may relate to a football coach, team, player, pastor, politician, self, leader, family member, church member, etc. “For who makes one different from anyone else. What does one have that he did not receive from God? And if he did receive it, why do we boast as if he did not?” (1 Corinthians 4:7)

Righteousness is what God desires in people. First he wants you to have a righteousness in his eyes which could only be provided by the cross of Jesus Christ. As a result of that, God wants you to live a righteous life. But God warns against self-righteousness, which is any means by which you expect to earn a right standing or acceptance before him. Our Lord Jesus taught this very simply and clearly. “Becoming saved is something you receive as a gift from God which you could never earn or deserve. It cannot be earned by personal effort, or you could boast or brag about your achievement.” The Apostle Paul, speaking about his self-righteous efforts before he met Jesus, said that his self-righteous efforts were as worthless as garbage. His climactic assertion was, “God forbid that I should boast except about the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.