When I read this verse this morning I immediately thought about all of things people boast about in our day. Personal accomplishments would have to be at the top of the list. These boasts are our way of letting those around us know that we have made it–I am a success! Making tons of money, landing the dream job, being voted “Class President,” winning the State Championship, or any number of other accomplishments let everyone else know that we are somebody.
Working hard and accomplishing much are wonderful. They are signs that we are diligently using the abilities that God has given us. The problem is not hard work or success. The problem is allowing these to become our identity and a means of elevating us, in our own minds, above those around us.
Paul said that his sole focus of boasting was in the cross of Jesus Christ. When compared to what we brag about today, this seems rather odd. The cross is a symbol of death, not life. It is a symbol of failure, not success. In 1 Corinthians 1:27-31, Paul wrote,
27 But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28 He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things–and the things that are not–to nullify the things that are, 29 so that no one may boast before him. 30 It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God–that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. 31 Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:27-31 NIV)
Paul says, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” In the world’s eyes the cross is absolute foolishness, utter folly, yet for the followers of Jesus, the cross is the symbol of what God has done to rescue us from death and restore to us the life He intends for us. It is through the foolishness of the cross that God accomplished the greatest success the world has ever known–the salvation of a hopeless sinner like me.
My prayer today, Lord, is that I might never give in to finding my identity in anything other than the cross of my Lord and Savior. You, O Lord, are my success, my hope, and the longing of my soul.