“You are the smartest person I know…”
“You make so much money…”
“Your house is awesome…”
“Your children are so successful…”
“You are the best cook…”
“You set the trend…”
We often find ourselves giving and receiving compliments. A compliment has the power to uplift, encourage, and motivate. It is often humbling to be given a compliment from someone. Why do we sometimes feel awkward when we receive this positive affirmation? It is a matter of the heart and mind that makes us realize that we are really not that special or significant. When someone else elevates us it is flattering because it is coming from without not from within.
Let us shift the perspective we are taking to look at these compliments. We will transform them before our eyes; like applying a filter to an Instagram picture. We will apply the pride of life and an egotistical world view to these compliments:
“I am beautiful…”
“I am the smartest person I know…”
“I make so much money…”
“My house is awesome…”
“My children are so successful…”
“I am the best cook…”
“I set the trend…”
The innocuous compliments have been transformed and perverted. The compliments are now boasts. The focus has changed from looking at others to looking at oneself. How often do you find yourself boasting in what you have done? How does boasting impact your life? When we let boasting encroach upon our lives we become poisoned as we begin to believe them.
How does this idea of boasting relate to the story found in Jeremiah? The story of the Israelites is a story of God’s design and delight. He worked in many times and places to work in the lives of the Israelites. The people at times acknowledge that their delight and hope was found in God alone. As time progressed the compliment, praise, and adoration of God turned into a boastful cry of self defined glory in existence. “Oh that I had in the desert a travelers’ lodging place, that I might leave my people and go away from them! For they are all adulterers, a company of treacherous men. They bend their tongue like a bow; falsehood and not truth has grown strong in the land; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they do not know me, declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9:2-3 ESV)
God does not delight in our pride. He will not strive against the sinful heart of man. We must be identified by God and not by our perceptions. We need to know God. We need God. The people of Israel had forgotten God and wandered off trusting in their own ability. In the same way we wander into the world thinking that we have it made. It is in the midst of this story that God moved to remind His people of their place in His story.
Thus says the LORD: “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 the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will punish all those who are circumcised merely in the flesh—Egypt, Judah, Edom, the sons of Ammon, Moab, and all who dwell in the desert who cut the corners of their hair, for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in heart.”
(Jeremiah 9:23-26 ESV)
Cry aloud. Weep. For the love of God Almighty has been forgotten. We are so prone to self-centered living. We like the Israelites carry our badge of circumcision around believing that it alone is the hope and key to our future. When in reality it is nothing but a mutilation of ourselves; thinking that we can live on in the world simply as card carrying christians. We need to embrace and remember that the true circumcision is an identification that pierces flesh to the heart of our hearts. Deep down we need to come to realize who we are. Deep down the people of Israel needed to know who they were. We must know the steadfast love, unrelenting justice, and abounding righteousness of God. It will be in the midst of God’s overwhelming torrent that we will find ourselves standing free from the self-inflicted bonds of self-righteous rhetoric and find ourselves finally free from the bonds of the boastful pride of life.
I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Correct me, O LORD, but in justice; not in your anger, lest you bring me to nothing. Pour out your wrath on the nations that know you not, and on the peoples that call not on your name, for they have devoured Jacob; they have devoured him and consumed him, and have laid waste his habitation.
(Jeremiah 10:23-25 ESV)
Will you give up and give in to God? Will you lay down your boastful heart of stone? Will you trust in the truth that Jesus Christ is all you need? Do not wait for the wrath of God to fall upon you, look up from your busy life and see that there is a loving God standing before you. He loves you. He, the God of Heaven and Earth, Loves you. Listen to me.. God. Loves. You. Look again to the compliments we started with. God’s compliment is the best one you will ever receive. Will you embrace it today? Will you embrace God?