We love to boast. It’s built into us.
Our American culture has a particular fascination with boasting, especially when it comes to the GOAT. I don’t mean the animal, but rather the man or woman who is the greatest of all time. Who’s the greatest golfer to ever hit the links? Who’s the greatest basketball player to take the court? Who’s the greatest tennis player to handle a racket or boxer to enter the ring?
Every answer is going to be subjective. Yet, we still cry out regularly, “Who’s the greatest?” This is not limited to sports. We pick the best in every pursuit, from entertainment to economics, politics to religion.
In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus asks His disciples what they were talking about. Every single one of them remains silent. No one dared answer, because they were talking about which one of them was the greatest. Jesus gathers them together and tells them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” No one likes to hear that, but Jesus repeats this servant-first message throughout the Gospels. Clearly, it’s important. Clearly, we have a hard time getting it, just like the disciples who need several more reminders.
Even when we’re doing “good” things, awesome things, acts of kindness, reaching out and loving brave, we have to be careful of our prideful and boasting heart. Jesus knows deep down we often want to be seen. He’s got wisdom for that too.
People talk about repenting of our sins, but sometimes, oftentimes, we need to repent of our good works as well, if we believe these things will save us. God doesn’t work like that. In this way, the playing field is level. There’s no one who has a better, stronger standing before God because we’re all in the same place. We all need Jesus and His Brave Love.
This goes against our hierarchical society where we are constantly seek to put people in their places. In a counter-cultural way, God tells us to boast in your weaknesses. WHAT?!
When we confess the million ways we have messed up, when we share our weaknesses, it reveals an authenticity which invites others to be real and honest.
He is sufficient. His Grace is the Greatest of All Time.
Repenting of my good works is my new favorite idea for the life of the Christian church. How often do we take refuge in our goodness rather than God’s graciousness? We think we are doing pretty good for ourselves, but our good is junk before God. Good gets us nowhere, God’s grace is where anything truly good is at. I lay my good at his feet alongside my sin, my dark stuff, my rebellion, because I want His grace over my good any day.