Good Life

Clergy column | Get to know God by acting with justice, love

In Jeremiah 9: 23-24 God has said through Jeremiah, “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice, and righteousness on the Earth, for in these I delight, declares the Lord.”

From the outset are listed three things that people should not boast of, not that people shouldn’t have or desire. There are examples in the Old Testament of people with wisdom. Solomon, King David’s son, asked God for wisdom to run the government in justice, with that he accumulated real wealth and stature, but unfortunately perverted the gift toward personal gain and glory.

Further, there are examples of the strength of Samson and the vigor of Moses. But also the vigor of ordinary men to do what needed to be done, no matter what age — a gift from God and even one to be prayed for. There are examples of rich men in the Old Testament, Abraham, Boaz and Job, as well as others alluded to in Psalms and Proverbs through their generosity. All of these are gifts from God for a life lived under the covenant blessings of God and not to be ashamed of provided they were acquired and exercised within the framework of covenant obedience.

But the caveat that God makes through Jeremiah is “do not boast of these things” because that means we take credit for ourselves and our abilities for what are in reality gifts from God turning them into a matter of pride and self glory. There is no doubt that we must give effort to think, for strength to breathe, for abilities both natural and learned, but where did it all come from?

Ancient script in Deuteronomy 8: 17-18 gives a reality check for all of us even today: “You may say in your heart, my power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth. But you shall remember the Lord your God for it is he who is giving you power to make wealth.” In our boasting we can turn these gifts into terrible evils, but what can stop us today from falling in that trap and what God through Jeremiah is saying is to “know God” who is the giver of these gifts (24)

As Christopher J. H. Wright has said, “For to know God means to share his concerns, understand his scale of values and priorities and to take delight in what pleases him.”

My Christian friends, is that the delight of your heart, to get to know God? While it is an intellectual process, it is more an experiential process, not a vague spiritualized feeling, but obedience to Gods word — a putting to action what you say you believe. To know him then is to act with justice, to act in righteousness, and to love others.