Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Proper Boasting

by Timothy Howe

We are approaching Easter. This season offers the most hope. The Resurrection of our Lord gives us hope. He conquered death and he offers us that very same victory. But we must never forget that the victory came with a price, a price that we did not have to pay. Anything we have as followers of Jesus, any gain we have received, any benefit that we have procured, any hope that we cling to has all come about on account of his work. None of it is as a result of our efforts, our strengths, our righteousness, our goodness, our wits, or our good works. It is all on account of Him.

That is why the apostle Paul state, But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. (Gal 6:14 ESV)

Isaac Watts’ hymn When I Survey the Wondrous Cross was likely inspired by this verse. It is a favorite at this time of year. May it speak to you.

          When I survey the wondrous cross
          On which the Prince of Glory died;

Our Savior paid a terrible price. Jesus, who descended from the realm of Glory itself, allowed His broken body to be affixed to that cruel instrument in humiliating fashion, an instrument that can rightly be renamed “wondrous” as a result of its association with Him.

          My richest gain I count but loss,
          And pour contempt on all my pride.  

Our greatest endeavors measure up very poorly compared to His work on the cross and the result that we receive from it. We may think that we have achieved something in this world, that we have demonstrated some goodwill towards fellow humans, or that we have shown real self-sacrifice, but there purpose reasons for personal pride are insignificant aside the wondrous work on the cross.

          Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
          Save in the death of Christ, my God;
          All the vain things that charm me most,
          I sacrifice them to his blood.

Our sole boast should be in the death of Christ. His death and subsequent victory over it transformed the ignoble cross into the greatest hope for humanity. Let us put down the world’s charms that so easily tempt us and fortify our grip on the eternal wealth that His blood has secured us.

          See from his head, his hands, his feet,
          Sorrow and love flow mingled down.
          Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
          Or thorns compose so rich a crown.

Jesus forever bears the mark of our sin – our penalty pierced his flesh. Yet, in that terrible moment when our just due was laid on Him, His words were “Father, forgive them.” His flowing blood demonstrated simultaneously the love and justice of the Father reminiscent of Psalm 85:10, where God’s steadfast love and faithfulness meet; where righteousness and peace kiss each other (from the ESV) .

          Were the whole realm of nature mind,
          That were an offering far too small;
          Love so amazing, so divine,
          Demands my soul, my life, my all.

We cannot repay His glorious work, even if we should possess all that there is to take hold in this universe. What can we offer Him, then as a result? Ourselves. We can offer Him our lives, as His devoted disciples.

May God bless you with Michael W. Smith's rendition of this hymn below.