December 12

Jeremiah 9:23-24 (NIV) 23This is what the LORD says: "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, 24but 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 earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD.

Jeremiah's prophecies are painful to read. The people of Judah are described as being so hardhearted that nothing will get through to them. Though God refines them by trial after trial, they would not be purified. Though He called to them again and again, they would not listen. They boasted that they knew the Law of God, but they would not obey it. Exile was the only tool left to change them. What a warning for us today!

The LORD told them if they were going to boast about anything, then it should not be their wisdom, or their strength, or their riches. The only thing that man can boast about is knowledge and understanding of the LORD. Knowing His divine attributes of kindness, justice and righteousness is something you can boast in. God delights in those things.

At first glance, kindness and justice seem to be in contrast. His justice was sending them into exile, while their soldiers' bodies lay unburied in the fields. Was that kindness? Absolutely! God had tried everything else, and they refused to change. For the sake of the generations to come, for the sake of the seed that was to bring the Messiah, the kindest thing was disaster to crack their hardheartedness.

We should consider that God delights in kindness. He would rather pour blessings upon us for our willingness to hear and obey than to pour the "kindness" of wrath to wake us from sin.

Consider: Where are you in this picture? Perhaps you can answer with less bias when you consider what you boast in.

December 12

2 Peter 3:14-16 (NIV) 14So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. 15Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. 16He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Peter had just warned his readers that the world would be destroyed by fire. Since everything here will go up in smoke, we should be looking forward to the new heaven and earth, a home of righteousness. How should that affect our daily lives? We should be endeavoring to be found spotless, blameless, and at peace with our Lord. This does not mean that we are earning our salvation, but that when our time comes, we have nothing left of the world that will be destroyed. Christians whose hearts are still set on things of the passing world will not find the transition as wonderful as those who are at peace with the Lord. Peace with the Lord means our affections are toward Him and not the things of the world.

Peter adds that Paul has written the same thing. He makes an interesting comment in regards to Paul's letters. He compares them to sacred writings. Peter writes that the unlearned distort the meaning of both. We will always have people who use the sacred writings for their own personal desire and advantage. Actually, it is to their disadvantage, though they do not realize it. They twist the Scriptures to justify an attachment to worldliness, to pleasures and wealth. What they set their heart upon will perish.

Consider: Am I reading into Scripture a justification for worldliness or living with the realization that it will all perish?