One of the simple things Jude loves to do is stand on tables. The kid loves nothing more than to stand on any kind of table. Kitchen counters, dinner tables, coffee tables, side tables, end table, and TV stands are all fair game. He’s still too small to climb onto pieces of furniture, but every now and then Erica or I will pick him up and place him right on top of one of our tables. As soon as his feet his the wood, he starts to smile, giggle, and squeal with joy and excitement. You can tell he’s so proud and that he feels so big. It’s almost as if he considers it a great personal accomplishment to be so much higher than everything else. But the only way Jude could ever stand on our tables is if his (slightly irresponsible?) parents put him there.
One of the most ironic kinds of Christians is the self-boasting Christian. Christians who brag about their morality, righteousness, or relationship with God are like a toddler bragging about standing on a table. They are bragging about something they didn’t even do. Christians should be the most humble people in the world, because we have received incomparable joy at no cost. The righteousness God provides in the gospel is freely given to all who believe. It comes at great cost, but God himself pays the cost.
We receive justification through faith alone, not through works of the law (Rom. 3:28). Faith is not a means of earning salvation, but the means of receiving salvation. Salvation in Christ alone is entirely a work of God alone. So any boasting from us should be in him! When we brag about who we are and what we do, it must be rooted in what God has done for us, in us, and through us.
Christ’s death in our place removes the possibility of anyone boasting in their works as the basis of their salvation. So, when you speak with others about who you are and how you live, brag! Brag on the Lord and the great gift of grace he has given.
Mathew Gilbert (B.A. Boyce College) is Associate Pastor for Children and Preschool at The Church at Trace Crossing in Tupelo, MS. He is the author of Come to the Well: 50 Meditations to Fuel Your Joy in God (Westbow Press, 2016). He is an M.Div student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Mathew is married to his high school sweetheart, Erica. Mathew and Erica live in Tupelo with their son, Jude. You can follow him on Twitter @mat_gilbert.