To Boast or not to Boast?

This week we are memorizing a very familiar verse-Ephesians 2:8-9. Sometimes familiarity means we don’t think about what we are reading or memorizing. So we need to think about an aspect about this verse that should help us allow the message to impact us again. Yesterday, during our family worship time, I asked my family a trick question: Should we boast? My son said no, but wife said yes. Who was right? Actually both were because they were both answering based on biblical truth. Should we boast in ourselves? No (my son was right). Should we boast in the LORD? Absolutely (my wife was right). Just how intent is our God that we would learn to boast in Him rather than ourselves? The very nature of the gospel is such that the only way to be saved is to turn from boasting in ourselves and boast alone in God through Christ. Salvation is “by grace…through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God not as a result of works.” Why is salvation like this? Well, there is more than one biblical answer to that, but the purpose that Ephesians 2:9 reveals is that “no one may boast.” In other words, the gospel is so designed that those who are saved have no ground for boasting in themselves. 

On the flip side, God has saved us by grace through Jesus not simply to snuff out self-centered boasting, but also to produce God-centered boasting. When Paul writes to identify who true believers are he says this in Philippians 3:3: “who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.” The word for “glory” is the very same word in Ephesians 2:9 for “boast.” This has always been God’s design for those who know Him. Wise men are not to boast in their wisdom, those with great strength are not to boast in their strength, and those of great means are not to boast in their financial security. Rather, “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). 

So who are you boasting in? These categories of boasting are mutually exclusive. If you are boasting in yourself, you are not boasting in God. If you are boasting in God then you are not boasting in yourself. If you are not boasting in God, then you are boasting in yourself. Here is the rub, you may say “I am not the type of person who is boasting in myself.” But if you cannot honestly say that your life is characterized by boast in God then you are necessarily boasting in yourself in some way.  If you are not boasting in yourself, then you must have found out that there is Someone greater than you and you are living in that reality, you are boasting in God. May the Lord grant us repentance over our foolish boasting and give us the faith to live lives that are flourishing with boast in Him. 

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