What and Whom will you BOAST about this week?
If you’ve ever done any preaching the first thing that happens after you preach is that you start to measure yourself. Was I clear, did I point people to Christ, did I remind them of his superiority to any other treasure. Did I forget to tell my friends of anything worthy to be recognized in the text.
Yesterday we spoke of the idea that at the foot of the cross everything is leveled (James 1:9-11). This means our position (how God views us) in Christ is based on something done OUTSIDE of ourselves. God is not so concerned with our action, but most importantly with our attitude. Rightly ordered responses come out of rightly ordered thoughts. “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he” (Proverbs 23:7-KJV). The beauty in the work of Christ for sinful people is that the rich and the poor, the known and the unknown, the beautiful and unbeautiful, the smart and not so smart will be judged based upon their view of Jesus, according to the scriptures.
I have to throw this caveat in there because the unbeliever does not believe this, yet we who have the Spirit come to see that God is concerned about not what we can present to him, but what he has presented to us. When one comes to Jesus and turns from their sins and trusts alone in Jesus Christ, they are now viewed as forgiven and NOTHING they offer to him takes the place of what HE has done for us. His perfect righteous life comes to be ours while our sins that are cast on him, are no longer the issue. Peace can happen. This is called the finished work of Jesus (John 19:30). He does everything for us and we accept what he has done, and in this we now stand on level ground with each other.
Unfortunately in our daily lives, when trials come, the reality is that we often get more fixed and focused on the circumstances than the one who is in control of the circumstances. How soon we forget that trials are an opportunity to praise God because the trials are teaching us to persevere and bringing us to maturity (James 1:4). They also bring an opportunity to grow in wisdom (1:5) so that in the future as we continue to encounter trials we can see their value while appreciating these divine ordeals. We can look to them as an opportunity to praise the God who holds us the palm of his hand. This is the challenge in James 1:9-11.
Therefore we must remember we are all equal in the sight of God. The poor man can boast in his new status which never changes while the rich man, who is also in Christ, must boast in his humiliation (his low status). In reality the poor man and the rich are equal, yet the challenge to the rich is that he is in the eyes of God no better than the poor!! The world will challenge him to focus on his riches, while God wants him to use them not for his (the mans) own personal gain, but the glory of God. He may have more possessions, and yet he has to constantly refrain from boasting in what he has and being distracted by them to the neglect of the Lord. This is hard in a culture that measures a person’s worth according to what they own, and who they know, and what they can offer others.
The poor man in his trials must not get jealous of the rich who has what he does not. He must refrain from blaming a good God who knows exactly what he needs. He must stay fixed on his position and status (Heirs of Gods kingdom, children of the most high, redeemed, reconciled…..) and continue to allow God to change him into a shining trophy of his grace. The rich man must not fix on his wealth but learn to continually gaze on him that gave it to him (Hebrews 12:2) remember that everything he has comes from a Sovereign King (1 Corinthians 4:7)who never gives him too much that he forgets the God who has given it to him. That means everything he gives us is for his glory (Romans 11:36).
The one warning in all this is that from the story of the Sower and the seed found in Matthew 13. Their are two obstacles in the storythat draw people away from their profession of faith. It is the cares of the world (poverty) and the deceitfulness of riches (treasure) that distance people from Christ. “for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. (Mat 13:22)”. This person, eventually forgets the God whom they professed and reveals he or she was never was truly saved. In other words boasting goes out the window and their pursuits become more important. This is why we must lovingly pursue those who profess but don’t live for Jesus. We must lovingly warn them of the reality of God’s work for them. Let’s be a people who care enough for the souls of others who profess, but fail to proclaim the glories of Christ.
Both the poor and rich have obstacles that can get in the way of their relationship with God and his people. There is a great prayer both groups ought to pray. It is found in Proverbs 30 which says ”Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.(Pro 30:7-9).
The call here is to contentness and the challenge is to praise Jesus irregardless of your position. This ought to be a warning to those who think they can make a profession of faith in Jesus and yet never live in relationship with Christ and never live in his community called the local church. I can’t say for sure who is and who isn’t saved,but to say you love Jesus and hate his body (the church) is a strong statement.
We were able to watch a video of a tribe in Africa which has learned to boast in what’s most important. I hope you enjoy and let your boasting this week, be in the one who is worthy of our boasting!!