For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”. 1 Corinthians 1:26-31
Many of us grew up in homes where our parents told us not to brag and boast. This is of course correct, but there is a time and place to boast and not be considered arrogant. Paul, the apostle, encourages us to boast, for he clearly states, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” We boast in Christ, and what He has accomplished, not in ourselves.
When I was a much younger man, around sixteen or seventeen years of age, I worked at a gas station. Actually, we called them service stations because you received, well, service. Back in the days before self-serve and credit card readers, one would actually pull their car up to the pump and someone ran out of a building and filled up the tank for you. At the better stations, this same person would wash the windows, check the oil and even fill up your tires. Gas was also selling for 27 cents a gallon. Those days are long gone. At most places today you use a credit card, pay a buck for air, and if you do wander inside the convenience store, you speak to someone behind a 3 inch thick piece of glass that acts like you are bothering their reading. After wiping the tear from my eye, we can go back to the story and leave that short trip down memory lane.
One day there was a carload of thieves making the rounds to the local gas stations. These hoods would drive up, distract you with dozens of questions, and then try to steal money from the cash register that was right inside the door. Our little building had a back room in it as well as the typical displays of oilcans and anti-freeze containers outside of the door. The cash register was visible from where the cars would drive in for fuel and seemed like easy pickings to this gang. What was not known to them was that in those days word traveled quickly by phone, not as quick as tweets, but close enough. We had been notified that the thieves were around and sure enough, they showed up at my door. What this gang of thugs also didn’t know was that Glenn was in the back room.
As the car pulled in and the guys started fast-talking to me, I held up my finger and said, “Wait a sec, I will get Glenn.” Glenn was a huge guy. In fact, after he left high school he became a starting lineman for the Washington Husky’s football team. Glenn was over 6’5″ and close to 275lbs, which was big in those days. As Glenn filled the door and ducked a bit, I wished camera phones had been invented. Okay, even cell phones, but I digress. The blood drained from the punks face and it must have flowed to his left foot for he burned rubber for quite a ways as they sped out of the parking lot. To complete the picture, I weighed 125lbs ringing wet and was about as muscular as a beanpole, but that didn’t matter, Glenn was big enough for both of us.
Now, I could boast about how I scared away the crooks but that would not be accurate or honest. What would be true is my boasting in Glenn. Any boasting that we can do is because of the Lord. Even Glenn could not take the credit for his size; you should have seen his parents! God blessed Glenn with size and speed, and so even his boasting would have to be in the Lord, if he was going to be honest.
Paul reminds the Corinthians to think about what they were before Christ, and this is an excellent process for us as well. I was a lost, pleasure seeking, self-centered, smelly, hippy that was on the highway to hell and didn’t even know it. My prospects were bleak and future was assured. I was weak physically, couldn’t put together two coherent thoughts, and certainly was not of noble birth. I also was low and despised. Yup, I fit Paul’s description to the max. And if the truth be told and embraced, so does everyone else before they know Christ.
I have read interviews of the rich and beautiful and both described the lost, hopelessness of their life. Money, beauty, endless pleasure, popularity, gifts and talents, physical abilities, man’s wisdom in abundance, and just about anything else you can name, does not fill the God-size hole in the human heart. We need Jesus, and we need Him desperately. Everyone does.
After we meet Christ, everything begins to change. Paul states that we are in Christ. By being in Christ, God begins to use the weak, low and despised to put to shame the strong and the things that are in this world. We, who were nothing in the world, become a treasure in God’s eyes and kingdom. We, who were rejected, considered expendable and unnecessary are precious to the Sovereign King of the universe. In fact, after salvation we are adopted and become a part of God’s family and plan. We become righteous and are invited into the throne room of heaven any time we desire. We really do become royalty and possess noble blood!
Jesus makes a clear appeal to this reality in the following passage:
For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Revelation 3:17-18
Before I met Jesus, no one could convince me that I was poor, blind and completely exposed. What was readily apparent to everyone else was not seen by my unseeing eyes. I thought I was cool, part of the in crowd, and something to behold. Under the burning gaze of love from my Savior, the scales dropped out of my eyes and I came into agreement with Jesus’ assessment of my condition. I was wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked. I desperately needed help for I had the fatal disease of sin, and Jesus was the only cure.
Today, I can boast again. Not in my strength, wisdom or accomplishments, but in the Lord. I am the righteousness of God in Christ. I am a new creation in Christ. I am sanctified in Christ. I am being changed from one degree of glory to the next in Christ. I am loved by my Father and headed to spend eternity with my Family in Christ. Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord. May we become very good at boasting in, and about Him, and not ourselves or accomplishments.