23 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, 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
Pride is so very dangerous for believers. It is sadly easy for us to think that, because we know something that is true or do something that is right, we somehow are better people than others who do not know such things. Some people would find it tempting to boast in their personal goodness, in their possessions, in their physical appearance, in their intellect, in their spirituality, or in some other area of life. And all such boasting is dangerous and deadly.
But God tells us in what we are to boast. We are not to boast in any part of ourselves. We are to boast only in the sweet truth that we, if we are his, know the Lord. Of course, as we see in Ephesians 2:8-9, we cannot boast that it was something good in us that brought us to the knowledge of God. We are saved by grace, through faith—which is itself a gift from God. Thus, God is the one who gets all the glory and all the credit for our knowledge of him.
Knowing God includes knowledge that God is loving, just, and righteous. These characteristics of God are the areas in which our world sadly misses understanding who our God is.
The world likes to think of God as loving, but they fail to grasp that God’s love does not make him tolerant of sin. Love is not a permission slip to do anything you want without consequence. Love is not a blanket approval of all a person’s thoughts and actions. None of us would consider a parent loving who allowed their children to run out of control and into self-destruction. Love, rather, is a commitment to another’s good. God is loving, and that love directs people to get under God’s grace and God’s rule for their good and for God’s glory.
God is also just. He will not let sin go unpunished. There is no human sin that will not be appropriately judged and punished by God. We need to understand this. Every sin is either punished in the person of Jesus on the cross or punished in the person of the sinner in hell. To know God is to know that he is not merely loving, but he is also just.
God is righteous. All that God thinks and does is perfectly right. One thing that this means for us is that we have no right whatsoever to question God’s standards. His ways are perfect. His judgments are true. His standards are beyond the fallen standards of man’s best reasoning. God is right. We, in any point that we disagree with God, are wrong.
And, in the passage above, God says that he delights in these things that are true of him. He loves when those who know him are loving, just, and righteous. We are to love others, being committed to doing them good. This does not mean that we are to allow others the freedom to rebel against God without a warning. We tell the truth to others out of love for their good.
We are to be just, loving the justice and goodness of God. We do not judge others, punishing them for sin. It is not our place. But we do clearly identify the truth that certain actions and ideas may be contrary to the ways of God. We tell others of the justice of God and invite them, lovingly, to find grace in the person of Christ.
And we are to live righteously. We are to obey the commands of God, not to earn favor, but to find the joy of showing the world how great God is. We live and think differently. We hold to biblical standards, even when the world around us mocks those standards. We do what the word calls us to do, not because it appears best to the world, but simply because the righteous God of the Bible commands it.
Christians, may we boast in knowing the Lord. May we then reflect the Lord we know by living out lives that mirror his values. Let us love as he loves. Let us value his justice. Let us model his righteousness. Let us find joy in his perfection and his perfect ways.