I recently posted a tongue-in-cheek article about how to boast more effectively. It’s purpose was really to highlight how subtle, deceitful, and varied our boasting can be. But it was also to contrast with the Apostle Paul’s determination.
God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Gal. 6:14).
Paul saw all the boasting that was going on in the world, especially in the religious world, and exclaimed “God forbid that I should ever boast. God prevent it, stop it, end it. May it never be.
But then there’s one exception. He introduces the only boast that God approves of: the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ.
His exclamation and exception are linked. He knows that boasting obscures the cross of Christ and the Christ of the cross. But he also knows that boasting in the cross is the best safeguard against every other kind of boasting. If we’re boasting in the cross, we cannot boast about ourselves. If we’re boasting about ourselves, we’re not really boasting in the cross.
What is it to boast in the cross and why does Paul commend it. He commends boasting in the cross not only because it shrinks his ego, but because it magnifies God in all his glorious attributes.
It magnifies God’s truthfulness. Think of the multiple Old Testament promises that were fulfilled at the cross. Somebody counted between 50-60 in one day. The cross says, “God keeps his promises.”
It magnifies God’s patience. When we see how God punishes sin at the cross, we marvel at his long-suffering with the world up until that point and the world since that point.
It magnifies God’s generosity. In giving his Son he gave us himself.
It magnifies God’s wisdom in that God found a way to remain just yet justify the ungodly.
It magnifies God’s holiness by demonstrating that he will not close his eyes to sin, no matter where he sees it.
It magnifies God’s justice as he punishes Christ without mercy – exactly and perfectly and satisfyingly.
It magnifies God’s anger. There we see God’s terrifying anger as we see it in no other place.
It magnifies God’s power. We see it in the earthquake, the eclipse, and the resurrections of the saints. But we see it most of all in his conquering of sin, death, and the devil, and in his delivery of sinners from his judgment.
It magnifies God’s love and grace. As Moses said, God loved us because he loved us (Deut. 7:7-8). That is all.
No wonder, Paul says, God forbid that I should boast in anything else other than the cross of Christ. Let it never, ever be!