Summary: Christians boast loudly and proudly in what their Savior has done for them.
“My dad is bigger than your dad.” “I’ve got Nintendo 64 and you don’t.” “I scored more points than you.” Any of these phrases sound familiar? Maybe you’ve heard them from the mouths of your kids. Or maybe you have uttered a phrase like that sometime in your life. It seems that childhood is full of boasting. Boasting about the size of your dad, the number and quality of your toys, and even athletic or academic skills.
Boasting isn’t something that just kids do. Today is a day of boasting for many adults. For fans, players, coaches, and owners associated with the NFL this is a day of boasting – that is if your team or favorite player is involved in the big game. Only two teams have made it – only one team will claim victory later on this evening. With only hours to go before this big game there is much boasting taking place. Boasting by the players in their own talents and abilities, in the strength and teamwork of their respective teams. Boasting by the coaches of the wonderful organization they are a part of, the dedication of their players, and perhaps in their own abilities to lead their team to the summit of the professional football season. There is also boasting by fans of each one of these teams. All of these groups are boasting right now – boasting that they are participating in this game, boasting about the greatness of their teams. A few hours from now there will be only one team that is boasting as champions, the other will go home disappointed that despite all their boasting their team failed to win the championship.
Perhaps this boasting is something you are fed up with. Maybe this boasting is something you don’t even pay any attention to. You’ve probably reached the conclusion that all this boasting is somewhat silly. After all once the game is over only one team really will have any reason to boast. Finally once next season begins even their boasting in a championship is only a thing of the past. If they want to continue to boast they will have to defend that championship or their boasting will come to an end.
This kind of boasting may be pointless and useless. Certainly this kind of boasting isn’t lasting. As Christians the Apostle Paul encourages us to boast. He encourages us to – Boast in the Lord. Our boasting is something far superior to the boasting about the strength of our fathers or our favorite football teams. Our boasting has far more significance than the quantity or quality of our toys. Our boasting has more meaning than some statistics from a sports contest or classroom quiz. Paul encourages us to boast in the Lord because of his choice. We are exhorted to boast in the Lord because of what he has accomplished in us.
When Paul encourages us to boast he makes it very clear that our boasting isn’t about anything we have done. In the text he reminds his listeners in Corinth of the facts. He reminds them that not many of them were wise by human standards, not many were influential, not many were of noble birth. Why does Paul remind the Corinthians about this? He wants them to understand and appreciate God’s great gift of his grace. He reminds them that in God’s eyes it doesn’t matter what job they might hold, or who their parents are, or how many people they know, or how much money they have. He reminds them of these facts because it’s hard to appreciate God’s grace unless they really understood their situation. Their situation and every human being’s situation is the same by birth. In God’s eyes all people are equals – they have all sinned. They all deserve eternal punishment. The same is true of all of us who are here this morning. None us by nature have anything to offer to God.
Paul also reminds them that God has called them to be his own. Paul reminds the Corinthians of another reality - the reality that God brought them to faith. God didn’t bring them to faith because of some great strategic advantage that they would serve for him. God didn’t choose people like a politician who is making a run for office might choose people to associate with and keep in his company. That’s not how God works. He has called you not on the basis of what you can offer him, but out of his love he has called you on the basis of what he can offer to you.
God chose to offer you salvation through the cross. He chose to use an object that portrays weakness. Crucifixion displayed helplessness and weakness because the person who hung there couldn’t get himself down. The cross is also a despised object. Only criminals hung on the cross, the dregs, the castaways, the misfits of society. The cross is also a lowly thing. Only the basest, the worst of criminals hung on the cross to pay for their crimes by their own death. Whoever was placed on a cross was hung there because of an awful crime.