I recently had dinner at the home of a precious, newlywed couple that I just adore. When talking with them or even entering their home, you very quickly realize how devoted they are to loving Jesus and to loving each other. While eating, I got to hear the story of how the husband came to know Jesus:
Being the type who always did well in school and who could rely on his intellect to create for himself a good future, he found himself rejecting the idea of a god during college. He had questions that most of his friends and teammates in college weren’t concerned with or able to answer. He never “needed” to believe in or rely on God, as he was able to excel in just about anything he set his mind to. So, it wasn’t until the things he always depended on, his grades and his family, were rattled that he began to feel his own dependence on God. It wasn’t until failing the MCAT twice, his parents losing their jobs, and his father having a second skin cancer scare that he felt his own brokenness and need for God. He called out to God during a worship service saying, “God, if that’s You, then show me and save me.” God claimed him as His child right then and forevermore. The girl that was standing beside him, now his wife, was fully aware of his demeanor change and the heart change that he was about to turn and tell her about. Her eyes welled up in tears knowing that his heart now belonged to the One who was first and foremost in her heart. A weight was instantly lifted in his life, and his life is now marked by such a love and devotion for magnifying the Lord.
I tell his story as it reminds us that God desires for our pride and our will (strengths, desires, and plans) to be broken before Him and to be made pliable in His hands. Because only when a man is truly humbled, will he seek to truly know and understand his Savior. We will now see how the prophet Jeremiah speaks to this in Jeremiah 9:23-24, as these verses outline how nothing a man can have or do is of any worth compared to the worth of knowing the Lord for who He truly is.
Let Him Not Boast…
Jeremiah is grieving for the sin of Judah and Jerusalem, as he is in a continuous conversation with the Lord during these chapters. The Lord is using Jeremiah to bring words of judgment to the people of Israel, and Jeremiah is specifically speaking to the folly of trusting in anything other than the Lord of Israel throughout these verses. Verse 23 starts with, “Thus says the Lord,” so this gets us ready for direct words and instructions from our God. Verse 23 then says, “Let not the wise man boast in wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches.” In Jeremiah’s time period, this was especially relevant because status, wealth, and wisdom were thought to be the marks of a man who was blessed by God. Although this can be true, Jeremiah knew that the men of Israel were blinded to their own sin, as they were seeking to increase their own status and glory instead of seeking to love and elevate the King of glory. Similarly, our culture places such emphasis on a man’s status and success. If you look at Hollywood, it is evident what status and fame does to people – they go crazy. You see, we weren’t ever designed to receive glory. We were designed to reflect glory.
…Unless It’s in Knowing Me
Verse 24 picks up and says, “but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me.” This is such a beautiful transition that brings such perspective. A man’s identity is only rooted in something/Someone admirable when he has a personal relationship with God, one that is committed and flourishing in knowledge. It’s about knowing God. Verse 24 goes on to discuss attributes of God that become familiar when we do know Him, and the verse concludes with, “for in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” In God’s words to Jeremiah, we learn that a man of God’s own heart isn’t charmed by gaining status but is devoted to knowing God by studying the depth of what Scripture has to say about Him. As a student spends years in college studying all about what they’ll do for the rest of their life, a man of God spends time studying all about Who he’ll serve for the rest of his life.
Proverbs 11:2 says, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” All too often, we love our pride and let it show in our minds, words, and actions. Yet, Scripture tells us that only through humility can we know the riches of who our God is (and only then can we mimic the example of a Savior who humbly sacrificed his life for us). A guy who truly loves Jesus is humbled and committed to relationally knowing Him. This is a man of character and this is what we should pray to see in the lives of the guys around us – regardless of what our culture says is “manly.” Pray this for fathers, brothers, uncles, grandfathers, boyfriends, husbands, and friends that they may identify more in the humility of knowing our Lord instead of achieving status or success within our culture. As girls, we too should live by the words in Jeremiah! I encourage you to read the lyrics to this song and pray Jeremiah 9:23-24 over your life and over the male figures in your life:
I am broken at Your feet
Like an alabaster jar
Every piece of who I am
Laid before Your majesty
I will bow my life
At Your feet, at Your feet
Oh, the gravity of You
Draws my soul unto its knees
I will never be the same
I am lost and found in You
Dear Father, we thank You that You pursue us and are so faithful in loving us. Spirit, convict us of our pride and sin. May our lives be marked by humility – so that we can know You richly and so that You can come forth in our lives. May we bow our lives at Your feet out of our love for You.
The Release of the Spirit by Watchman Nee
“Alabaster” by Rend Collective Experience