1 Corinthians 1:31, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Boasting, bragging. We all do it. We boast of our accomplishments. I am not speaking of the joy one shares with a friend or loved one when a great accomplishment is achieved or something good happens to them. I am speaking of bragging; we all know what it is. It is the type of talk that implies, “Look at me; I’m better than you.”
Parents, too, boast of their children. My parents, for example, like to boast about me to their co-workers and friends about my military service and my current time at seminary as I’m endeavouring to become a Lutheran pastor. There is nothing wrong with parents boasting about their children, per se. My point is a type of boasting that hardly fills our lips: boasting in the Lord.
What does it mean to “boast in the Lord”? Paul is quoting from Jeremiah, to whom God said, “‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am Yahweh who practises steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares Yahweh” (9:23-24).
God is infinitely wiser, infinitely mightier, and infinitely richer than we can be. God is steadfast in His love (covenantal faithfulness, mercy, loving-kindness), He is just, and He is righteous. It is these things in which God delights; He does not delight in His wrath. God has given us His steadfast love, justice, and righteousness. God’s love is steadfast for us—He is patient—when we sin and do wrong. God is just—He gives us eternal life in Christ when we deserve His wrath. God is righteous, which He gives to us through Christ by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9).
It is in these characteristics of God, which He extends to us, that we ought to boast. We ought to boast, “Yes, I achieved this great thing, thanks be to God and His steadfast love!” We ought to boast, “Yes, my daughter is doing extraordinarily well in college/at her job, thanks be to God and His steadfast love!” We ought to boast, “Yes, I have done many wrongs and many bad things, but thanks be to God’s justice that He enacted His wrath upon Christ that I might not suffer what I deserve!” We ought to boast, “Yes, I am inwardly evil and cannot help but do bad things, no matter how much good I put out into the world, but thanks be to God for His righteousness, which He has given to me by grace through faith in Jesus Christ!”