Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, nor let the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, exercising loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight, says the Lord (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
We are in the middle of campaign season, and all the candidates competing for votes are bragging themselves up. In this enlightened age of self-love, self-esteem, and positive self image bragging on oneself seems almost virtuous. Recognizing and affirming one’s God-given strengths and accomplishments is one thing, but the true honor and glory belong to the Lord alone–the triune, sovereign self-contained God of the Bible.
The text I cited above must be understood in light of the divine covenant made with Israel. They were promised a life of blessing in the land of Canaan as long as they worshipped the true God and followed his Laws. The first step into decline for them came when they dabbled in the pagan religions of the surrounding nations. These false deities were like add-ons to the worship of Yahweh, so that they did not feel like they were forsaking God.
From here they went into a downward spiritual and moral spiral while retaining an outward form of religiosity. Jeremiah the prophet was commissioned by God to warn the people and command them to return to the Lord. The Babylonian armies were closing in on Jerusalem even as Jeremiah uttered his prophesies. For every true prophet their were scores of fakes who preached a popular message of I’m-ok-you’re-ok. Jeremiah preached the true biblical God and the false prophets countered with the god of The Shack and Love Wins.
The so-called wise men were boasting of their wisdom in the face of imminent calamity. The so-called mighty men were still flexing their muscles, and the rich were trusting their riches to buy them continued blessing. Within a few short years they would be dead or led off in chains into captivity. Every basis of boasting would be gone and they would be shown as the fools they were for forsaking Him who is the true fountain of life and carving our for themselves broken cisterns that could hold no water.
In this or any other context one must glory in the knowledge of the true living God. God is a God of loving-kindness. This Hebrew word actually means covenant loyalty. When God enters into a covenant with another party He is bound by His nature to faithfully and unilaterally dispense his promises. In this case it was judgment and righteousness. There seems to be a logical progression in the order in which these items are listed. Covenant loyalty is the basis of judgment, and God’s judgments are totally upright or righteous. God delights in these attributes in His children because He delights in them in Himself.
We know God hates pridefulness (Prov. 3:34), especially in those who worship false gods. We know that one of the top three Republican presidential candidates worships a false god, and who knows about the other two? From all the bragging one would think they place themselves on par with God. For all his supposed smarts in history and politics Gingrich seems like a real lightweight theologically. Santorum is your standard dispy Arminian evangelical who spouts the right platitudes but, like Sarah Palin, Michelle Bachman, and Herman Cain is pretty much a biblical ignoramus.
Wouldn’t it be nice to hear at least one leader wax bold and give glory to the true and living God of the Bible and warn our nation that she is on a collision course with judgment and destruction? But alas, such words are no more popular or politically correct than they were 2,600 years ago. Not much of a meal ticket there.
As for you (and me), let us not lean upon the slender reeds of our own wisdom, might, or riches, lest they break and we are pierced through by them. Let Him who glories glory in the Lord (1 Cor. 1:31).