Galatians 6:11-18 – Let Us Boast
Humans have this really funny thing that they like to do. In my travels and experiences with people of other cultures, I’ve noticed one common thread. We love to boast. Whether it is about abilities, differences in culture, food, values, politics, or a multitude of other silliness, it never takes much to get someone going on boasting about something. We want to take pride in something. And the most ready things that are available for us to boast about have something to do with us. We have accomplished something. We have been born a certain place that makes us just a little bit better than someone else. We have a job that makes more money or is more enjoyable. We have better behaved kids. We drive more reliable cars, faster cars, or prettier cars. We are healthier, have better food, or the most options for food than someone or somewhere else. We love to boast. Paul is intimately aware of this. I believe that Paul as an educated Pharisee and citizen of Rome would have had to fight his desire to boast in his own accomplishments and heritage. In fact on multiple occasions Paul pulls the boast card in order to show others how foolish it really is to boast in ourselves.
Here in America we like to play a different version of the game, especially in the Bible belt. We like to boast about what God has done, given us, forgiven us of, or brought us out of in order to show how much worth we have in the eyes of God. For many people it’s the same game, just with a twist. We want to show off our blessings, but doing it for our glory makes us look selfish so we add God’s name to it and our conscience is clear. We love God because of what we get in return, rarely do we love Him for who He is. They believe that they are in control of their lives. As long as they do the right things God will give them what they want. But let tragedy strike that same person. Let them lose their job, have a loved one get sick or die, or let them get sick and die and they will almost immediately question the very existence of the God that they had previously attributed all of their good fortune to. We change the game from just boasting in ourselves to boasting in ourselves on behalf of God. What silly games we play.
Paul in his benediction to the Galatians reveals what our boasting should be about. We boast in Christ. Not in Christ and how we’ve benefited by knowing Him. We boast in Christ, who He is, especially when things go dark in this life. My wife and I enjoy watching the Cosby Show. It’s been a tradition ever since we were in college and I would head down to her apartment at lunch to eat and hang out and watch the Cosby Show. There’s always a common theme that Claire and Cliff try to get through to their children. The conversation usually goes something like this. A kid will say “Well if WE didn’t have so much money…” or something to that extent and Cliff always quickly responds “Your mother and I have money, you have nothing!” This is similar to how we tend to boast. God blesses us with something and we somehow feel entitled to it, we take ownership of it, and in that find our source for boasting. We boast in what God has done, rarely in who He is. In reality, we have nothing. Even what we have been given is not ours, it is always His. Even when it’s given to us, it is His. We are like spoiled children who walk around believing that we are owed what we want because we are loved. We have no real love for the Father who gives us what we need beside some things we want, we simply will use His name enough to hopefully keep getting what we want. Living in the Spirit will not allow this heart to remain in us for long. In fact, it is one of the first things to go, followed closely by the desires for stuff. The Spirit allows us to be satisfied in Christ and Christ alone. This will lead to boasting in Christ. Boasting in the Cross. In that position of boasting we have nothing, we are nothing, He is everything. This is how someone can rejoice when their family has been killed, they have been thrown in prison, beaten and waiting to be killed. They are not attached to the blessings or possessions of this world. They are attached to Christ, hidden in Him, abiding in Him, remaining in His love.
Please hear me. I am not saying it is wrong or bad to talk about the things that God has done. But I plead with you to allow God to examine your heart. Do you follow God only to receive comfort and a clear conscience here in this life? If God stripped everything from you and you were left alone on the streets, would you praise Him and glorify Him as if you lacked nothing? If you were to get cancer and live in pain for the rest of your life, would you still be able to worship Him like a child who has never tasted the struggles of life because you know He is enough? I think most of us would like to say yes to those questions, but if we allowed the Spirit to search our hearts we might not be able to answer so confidently. Most likely some of us are in a place where we won’t even let go of the silliest things in order to be fully surrendered to Christ. We refuse to let go of our self image and how people see us, so we spend money on 15 different pairs of jeans, 50 different pairs of shoes, and accessories to match any and every imaginable situation, and when we’re done we’ll thank God that we can continue to live as selfishly as we want. We refuse to let go of that glowing box that constantly allows us to live vicariously through people “real” or imagined who are able to do and say things that we wish we could if we weren’t “Christians.” We refuse to run to God for comfort instead of running to food, alcohol, drugs, or that person that can make us forget how broken we really are at least for a moment. Boasting in Christ means we are constantly reminded that we do not live for this life. It means we have nothing. It means we are constantly faced with sins that we have been putting off repenting of because they make us feel good. It means that until the day we die, we will live in a state of holy tension as the Spirit lives alongside the flesh. It means we live with the constant sting of having to daily crucify the flesh. It means He is enough whether we have enough or not. Let us boast in Christ. Let us let go of all the silly things we hold fast to, and hold fast to Him.
Let me be very clear. I am not saying that you are never allowed to watch TV, you can’t buy clothes and you certainly can’t enjoy the things we have been given in this life. I’ve already confessed that I watch TV shows. I enjoy movies. I enjoy food. But I am willing to sell it all, leave it all, abstain from it all for the sake of Christ. The Lord is teaching me more and more each day to live with my hands holding fast to Him, but I first must let go of the things of this world. Allow the Spirit to search you, and then be willing to obey. Only when we have surrendered to the Spirit can we truly boast in Christ. Our hearts will always tell on us when we’re lying. I love y’all more than you know. Grace and peace,