What Really Matters
Jeremiah 9:23-24When I was a child, my parents were always eager to hear of my successes in school or on the athletic field. But if they overheard me telling my friends of my great accomplishments, they’d warn me, “Mark, don’t brag! Nobody likes bragging.”
Through Jeremiah, the Lord gives us similar counsel. It was meant originally for Jews who thought too highly of themselves and their apparent excellence. They were boasting of their wisdom, power, riches. They seemed to have it all, and they were glad to brag to others. Interestingly, the word translated here as “boast” is a form of the Hebrew verb halal, which means “to praise. We know this verb in the word “hallelujah.” Here it speaks of self-praise, boasting, or excessive self-confidence. The Lord’s point is not just that we shouldn’t speak of our abundant wisdom, power, and riches, but even more that we should not put undue value upon them.
Jeremiah 9:24 identifies something that’s worth boasting about, not that we should become braggarts, of course. “But those who wish to boast,” the Lord said, “should boast in this alone: that they truly know me and understand that I am the LORD.” Moreover, if we take pride in the Lord, then we will also delight in what delights him: unfailing love, justice, and righteousness (9:24). We will focus our lives upon knowing God and living like God as people who love, who seek justice, and who seek healthy, right relationships.
When we seek to know God above all else, and when we major in the subjects of love, justice, and righteousness, then we can use our wisdom, power, and riches for God’s benefit and purposes. They become tools for glorifying God and serving people, rather than trophies of personal accomplishment.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: What do you tend to value most about your life, your accomplishments? Of what might you be tempted to boast? How important is it to you—really—to know the Lord? How is this expressed in your life?PRAYER: Dear Lord, I must begin by confessing to you that I can easily feel too proud about things in my life that aren’t the main things. I can glory too much in my accomplishments or abilities or possessions. These gifts from you can become things by which I define my identity and worth. Forgive me, Lord, for glorying in the wrong things, for taking too much personal credit for your gifts, and for failing to seek you above all.
Help me, gracious Lord, to know and understand that you are the Lord. Help me to want to know you above all else. Help me to understand and experience your love, justice, and righteousness, so that I might live as you live. May I delight in the things that delight you.
To you be all the glory. In the name of Jesus I pray, Amen.