Braggin' Rites

  • Thursday, September 8, 2011
  • Half right... and half wrong.

    Sweet words flow as the reader of the letter stands before a nervous but attentive gathering. Word has made its way around the community and there was almost 100% attendance at the hastily called meeting. A messenger from their spiritual father in the faith, Paul, had arrived and with him was a personal letter. Nerves were a bit on edge because it had become known that a few of their number (Chloe’s people, actually) had reported some less than flattering attitudes and behaviors among them. So those assembling were, for good cause, a bit anxious as they awaited the reading. But the letter was personal and it was the man who had loved them enough to bring them the good news that broke the bondage of their sin addictions. So, though they may have feared what he might have written, they also could not wait to hear what Paul had to say.

    The reader, having cleared his throat and waited for the noise to die, read, “I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge…” Sweet words flowed. Yes, Paul HAD heard and he complimented them. Eloquence of communication and exceptional insight into Scriptural matters was their claim to fame, their reputation. And the reader continued, “…You are not lacking any gift…” So true, they thought smugly. We are knocking it into the upper decks in our Christian activity. Fully loaded and lacking nothing!

    They had it half right. The prophet Jeremiah wrote: “Let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me…” (Jeremiah 9:23) They were pretty proud and confident that they understood God. Eloquent in proclamation and defense, persuasive in argumentation, skillful in articulating the intricate truths of theology; they “understood”.

    But they regrettably also had it half wrong.

    Their attitudes and behavior clearly exposed the fact that they did not “know” Him. Loving-kindness, justice, and righteousness characterize Him and therefore, are the distinguishing marks of those who “know” Him.

    Corinth was proud of their understanding. Paul was deeply grieved by their lack of knowledge. To know ABOUT God can make one very proud. To KNOW God will inevitably make one very humble. The church’s pride exposed their ignorance.

    We brag about things we do not understand and we need to be reminded of the things of which we CAN boast. God, by His self-initiating grace, knows us. We can boast about that!

    See you Sunday, Church!

    Pastor Tom


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