This is what the Lord says: “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 earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. Jeremiah 9: 23 – 24
If you could choose the one talent you would most like God to endow you with on this day, what would it be? So many choices. . . I don’t know if I could decide!
I would love to be able to paint – to pick up a brush and blend colors to make a vase full of flowers or a scene in nature. How amazing that would be! But then, how unbelievable would it be if I could sing and touch people’s hearts and spirits with my voice? Also, it would be really nice to be able to cook anything and everything, and it taste wonderful! I know Bob would like that! Hhmm . . . Writing a children’s book for my grandsons would be incredible too! The stories would be about all the things they are interested in and would include them as the main characters. How delighted they would be with such a book! Oh, but then, I do wish I could have beautiful gardens full of flowers and vegetables and enjoy the fruits of my labor! I could go on and on! We know that God has given each of us talents of our own, but some of us could always use another one!
We all like knowing we have certain abilities or skills – not so much for the joy of bragging to others, but for us to know that we can do something really well and for which we can be proud of. But, according to Scripture, we have something far greater and of much more importance than any of the talents we could be given. For we can boast about knowing God and His love and grace.
In this verse in Jeremiah, we are given a clear message about giving God the glory and not basking in our own. Jeremiah reminds us that the greatest “boast” we can have is knowing we have His presence in our lives and that we can say, “He understands and knows me!” What a thought!
We know how God feels about prideful hearts, and He is very clear about expecting and wanting us to be humble beings. (Interestingly, humble and humbling are used 56 times, and humility is used 7 in Scripture).
Jeremiah is very specific in telling us that there are three things we are not to boast about, and the first is our own wisdom. So many individuals think they can give us so much more insight into our world, into the nature of the universe, and into the existence or non-existence of God, than we ourselves could ever know. Teachers, professors, scientists, politicians, astrologers, ministers, authors, and others tell us about the real “truths”, as they boast about their superior intelligence and wisdom.
Imagine that we would even think of letting the words of mere humans be treated equal to or above that of our Creator and His Word! He also warns us about boasting of our strength or power. Some use their political strength to sway people to believe what they perceive to be true, and often it goes against what is in our best interests or against our moral beliefs. Some look upon famous or powerful people with too much importance and even let them guide or dictate their thinking. And last of all, we are told not to boast about having riches. Amazingly, we often tend to equate wealth with wisdom, and we let those with power and wealth be the voice of reason and authority.
In truth, neither wisdom, strength, nor wealth makes one of us better than another, for we are all equal in God’s eyes. If we do gain such blessings, we know it is not because of our own doing, but because God has given them to us, and we should give Him the glory and honor.
Then there are others who just boast for the sake of bragging. They are trying to impress people, to make themselves feel more important, to create envy, or to influence how others think and feel. Yet, in doing so, they are trying to exalt themselves above God. Scripture makes it very clear that boasting and pride are not pleasing to God, for individuals who do so are moving Him out of their lives and replacing Him with themselves.
I love what Corrie Ten Boom, the Dutch Christian, who helped many Jews escape the Nazi Holocaust, wrote about being prideful: “People would thank me so much and it used to worry me because I didn’t want to get a big head. So I began to collect these compliments like flowers. ‘Thank you’, I’d say. ‘Thank you. Thank you.’
Then at the end of the day, I’d kneel down and say, ‘Here you are, Jesus. They’re all yours!’ ”
What a beautiful example of humility. May we save our highest praise for Him.
Dear God, how grateful we are that you know and understand us. May we always recognize from where our blessings come and give you the honor, glory, and praise. Help us to have a humble heart full of kindness, justice, and righteousness dedicated to serving you. Amen