Thank you for committing to prayer both for our prodigals and for revival. Rachel and I appreciate your partnership in this weekly Wednesday endeavor.
The gospel has two main storylines. The first is very unpleasant, dealing with the wickedness of our inner nature. In Luke 11, Jesus was talking to His disciples and said, “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Lk. 11:13). He saw the hearts of His own disciples and described them as evil. This is why in Galatians 5, Paul had to warn the believers not to be conceited, or to seek empty glory. It is one of the terrible outlets of our sinful nature. We have this desperate need for recognition, affirmation, and approval, and because of our nature, we often try to find them in the wrong places.
This reality of our fleshly nature is especially important to understand when dealing with the problems of our brothers and sisters. We looked at this last week when we examined the opening verses of Galatians 6. While it is good and right to bear burdens for one another, we need to determine why we are doing what we are doing. So often, our relationships are used for empty self-glory. It is called the logic of the market, which asks, “How can I profit from this person? How can this action make me look good? How can I build myself up at the expense of another?” Sadly, it’s all self. These goals are usually subconscious ones. In our willingness to helping others, we can do it to make ourselves look better than someone else, or to keep the weaker ones dependent upon us. The outward behavior looks good, but underneath are hidden selfish motives. The false teachers that dogged the heels of Paul were artful masters at doing this. Paul said, “It is those who want to make a good showing in the flesh who would force you to be circumcised, and only in order that they may not be persecuted for the cross of Christ” (Gal. 6:12).
The gospel deals with this ever-present reality of sin in our lives. It brings the cross of Christ across our wicked passions, and like the nails that pierced our blessed Savior’s hands and feet, it nails our pride and empty glory to the death. Paul said, “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). There is no glory in the cross, except for Christ’s glory.
This brings us to the second storyline of the gospel and it’s a beautiful one. It is the glory of the cross! And for us, it is boasting in that cross! Tim Keller likened this word boasting to a military rallying cry to bolster the soldier’s courage before entering the battle. How do you give soldiers the motivation they need to face the impossible or the confidence they need to face death? You give them something to boast in. They move forward saying, “We can do this because our spears are better, or our legs are stronger, or we have Goliath.”
In a philosophical way, our boast is our identity. It is what we look to, what gives us our confidence, our purpose, and our validation. It is what enables us to say, “I can do this.” The cross represents our victory over every form of evil, both inside us and coming at us. The cross enables us to live with confidence. The cross gives us the motivation to love the unloveable. And the cross is what infuses us with true courage to keep going on in the face of adversity. Our identity is in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So what will be your boast as you go into battle? As you live your life today, where is your boasting? Is it in yourself, your own achievements and abilities, or is it in the cross of Christ and what He has done? It is one or the other, not both. Let’s join with Paul and say, “God forbid that I should boast about anything or anybody except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Gal. 6:14 J. B. Phillips).
Thank you again for praying.
Love in Christ,
Bryan and Rachel
Zambezi River, Zambia.