Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lordwho practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23–24, ESV)
In this passage, God is speaking, and he gives us two lists: things to boast in and things not to boast in.
- Do not boast
- in your own wisdom
- in your own might
- in your own riches
- Do boast
- that you understand and know God
- that God practices steadfast love, justice and righteousness
- that God delights in steadfast love, justice and righteousness
It’s very easy to boast about our own wisdom or might or riches. Most of the time, we don’t blatantly boast about these things, but we do so covertly in our day-to-day actions and decisions. We are actually boasting about our own wisdom when we don’t inquire of God about our daily decisions. Often we make our own decisions without regard for God’s leading or truths. Quietly living in our own strength is also a way of life for many of us.Don’t worry about me, Lord – I’ve got this. I’m educated and I know how to handle this. Or, I’ve lived a long time. I’m an experienced professional, trained in this area. As for our riches –oh, it’s easy to subtly boast there. Well, my bank account is healthy, so I can handle this situation. Or, I don’t need to ask God how he wants me to spend my money; I’m paying my tithes and offerings. Isn’t that enough?
There’s a problem with this kind of thinking. God has been clear about what happens when we boast in ourselves and depend on our own wisdom, strength, and riches. The Message makes this plain in Jeremiah, as God explains why things aren’t going well for his people:
“Because they abandoned my plain teaching. They wouldn’t listen to anything I said, refused to live the way I told them to. Instead they lived any way they wanted. . . .”(Jeremiah 9:13-14a, MSG).
So instead of boasting in ourselves, let’s boast about God’s steadfast, loyal love for us. Let’s boast that he practices justice and doesn’t wink at sin. Let’s boast that God delights in doing the right thing.
Where or what is your boasting in? The number one thing that makes reconciliation possible is figuring out where your boast is. Are you boasting in your wisdom or in God’s steadfast love? In your own strength or in God’s justice? In your riches or in God’s righteousness? Self-centered boasters will have a difficult time reconciling with others.
Lord, help my boast to be in you and not in me. I want to be proud of who you are and keep my eyes on you. . . .Continue praying.