The theme of “boasting” is woven throughout the tapestry of Scripture. The Israelites sang of the Lord’s deliverance at the Red Sea: “The enemy boasted, ‘I will pursue, I will overtake them…’ But you [Lord] blew your breath, and the sea covered them,” (Exodus 15:9-11). King Ahab of Israel retorted the arrogant threats of King Ben-Hadad of Aram, saying: “One who puts on armor should not boast like one who takes it off (1 Kings 20:11).” The prophet Jeremiah said, “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight… (Jeremiah 9:23-24).”
The word “boast” might seem like “bragging,” but the essence of the word, especially as it is used in Scripture, encompasses much more. In Shakespeare’s King Henry V, the speech on the eve of Saint Crispin’s Day exemplifies a boast: “He that shall live this day, and see old age, / Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours, / And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian.’ / Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars, / And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day.’” In the movie Braveheart, a boast is William Wallace’s rallying call: “They may take our lives, but they’ll never take our freedom! Alba gu bra!” In the movie Ghostbusters, it is, “This chick is toast!”
The Apostle Paul makes his final appeal in his letter to the Galatians, by saying, “May it never be for me to boast, except in the cross of my Lord, Jesus Christ.” Philip Ryken once said, “To [boast] in the cross is to stop trusting in our own merits – our church attendance, worship style, devotional habits, social involvement, theological orthodoxy, or number of converts – and start trusting in the merits of Christ alone.” The agitators that had spread a fake gospel in Galatia boasted in the number of Galatians they had converted to circumcision. They boasted in the affirmations they received from their peers for these conversions. Paul, however, did not boast in receiving praise from people. He boasted in the cross of Christ alone.
What is your boast? When you wake up in the morning, what gets you out of bed? If the cross of Christ was your boast – your everything – would your life change?
For Further Study:
Eve of Saint Crispin’s Day Speech
Ghostbusters: “This chick is toast!”
Credible News (Galatians 1:6-10)
By Faith (Galatians 3:6-14), Part 1
By Faith (Galatians 3:6-14), Part 2
Plus Nothing Else (Galatians 4:8-11)
For Freedom (Galatians 5:13-18)