“Thus says the LORD, Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things, declares the LORD.” -Jeremiah 9:23-24
There is so much boasting in today’s world. The wealthy show off their large homes and fancy cars. Intelligent scholars display their brilliance in front of the class. Elite athletes demonstrate their skills to massive crowds.
Boasting in human riches, wisdom, and strength is futile. Everything that has been given to us is a gift from God, the giver of life. Since our possessions and talents belong to the Lord, He should receive all the praise and adoration.
God is not being self-centered when He tells prideful people (like you and me) to focus on His goodness, love, and justice rather than our own achievements. He is saving us from a potential pitfall. Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”
Instead, our focus should be on God. This is the first commandment He tells us: “Have no other gods before Me.” Why? Because if we start worshipping our achievements, abilities, and intelligence, we will end up creating a false idol. This false idol will eventually collapse and destroy us in the process.
How is that? Let me explain. When we try to find our identity in success rather than in God, our expectations will grow. We will always want to be better and attain an even higher goal. Isn’t that a good thing? Yes, it is. However, you will eventually reach your maximum goals and still not be satisfied.
As limited creatures, we can’t find our ultimate fulfillment in what we do or we will be disappointed. A billionaire was once asked, “Now that you have achieved so much wealth, what is your next goal?” The answer? “More money!” A super athlete who won a few super bowls was asked, “What is your next goal?” I guess another super bowl victory.
Do you see how boasting in our achievements rather than God can lead to a vain and restricted outcome? Can you envision how boasting in your achievements and worshipping your image can lead to spiritual decay? Just ask any famous actor in Hollywood. They might tell you after a while that being worshipped by the world can lead to depression and anxiety. The reason is because we were not made to be worshipped. We were made to worship God.
This is what God is trying to tell Jeremiah the prophet in this passage 2,500 years ago, which is still relevant to us today. Boasting is to be reserved for God alone. Anything less would be idolatry. And when we heed to God’s advice by boasting in His grace, justice, and love–we actually become self-fulfilled. God + nothing = everything. Everything- God = nothing.
So remember, when God commands us to worship Him it’s because He wants to see us fully satisfied. It’s not because He wants all the attention or to be praised for no reason. The Lord knows that when we seek first His Kingdom and righteousness, we will be joyful. For it is God who is the giver of joy. Therefore, let’s continually boast so that our joy will be overflowing! Let’s pray
Dear Heavenly Father,
You are holy, righteous, and worthy to be praised. All of our talents and achievements should be placed before your throne. You have given all to us–now we give it all back to you with a thankful heart. We boast in you. We boast in your goodness and love. We will praise your name forevermore. For you are worthy to receive praise, glory, and honor. In Jesus name, Amen!