Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith.
“What good thing must I do to get eternal life?” (Matthew 19:16) The wealthy young ruler believed he had to earn God’s favor, and he was confident that he was well on his way. In his estimation, he had kept the commandments, but he was concerned that there had to be more. Jesus responded, “Sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” The man “went away sad, because he had great wealth.”
When Jesus spoke about “treasure in heaven,” that got Peter’s attention. He gave it a lot of thought and then asked Jesus, “We have left everything to follow you. What then will there be for us?”
The rich young man’s response is devastating. Peter’s response is just as disappointing. Yet, the law drives us all. By nature, each of us believes that God will not bless us unless we prove ourselves to him. The better our efforts, the better God’s blessings. However, this is not how it works. All we earn for our efforts is death, because sin is a part of all we are and do. Thankfully, this is not how God works.
In the parable of the compassionate employer (Matthew 20:1-16), we learn about God and how he relates to us. The laborers are unemployed, but the landowner personally seeks them out to work in his vineyard. He gives the first laborers he hired a fair wage for a full day’s work, and the same wage to those who worked less, even only one hour. The landowner was not being cheap. He was being generous–taking a loss so that he could provide fully for the needs of these desperate men.
In God’s kingdom, the standard of measure is not the labor of our hands but the goodness of God’s heart. Jesus did all the work of salvation for us. In life, he labored perfectly to love both God and people. In death, he bore the burden of sin and suffered the punishment we deserve. He lost his life for us to give his life to us. His work is our work. His perfection is our perfection. His death is our death. His resurrection is our resurrection.
Believe it, and boast in Jesus!
May I ever rest and never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
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