23 This is what the Lord says:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
justice and righteousness on earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.
25 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will punish all who are circumcised only in the flesh— 26 Egypt, Judah, Edom, Ammon, Moab and all who live in the wilderness in distant places. For all these nations are really uncircumcised, and even the whole house of Israel is uncircumcised in heart.”
Sometimes I think we forget what delights the Lord. We try to be good and follow the rules. Our grandparents created lists of do’s and don’ts, and while we rebelled against them as teens, now we embrace them. They must be the way to a better life.
As I write this, graduations abound. And I have to admit, I’m proud of my grandchildren. My two oldest both graduated high school with high GPA’s and their college associates degrees. Both will attend college, the oldest in his second (but Senior) year. They will be astrophysicists and aerospace engineers when they’re done. And while I believe they should continue to do their best in their respective fields, I also know God is not necessarily impressed.
My daughter and son-in-law are award winning body builders. If you need heavy lifting done, they’re the ones to call. And my oldest–she’s had the Midas touch since her teens. Still our heavenly Father doesn’t label these successes as accomplishments in the same way we do.
All these things–wisdom, knowledge, strength, and riches–are gifts from the Almighty. Boasting about them would be like boasting about a stuffed animal you received for Valentine’s Day. On the other hand, the way we use these gifts might give us cause to brag a bit. When we put the gifts God has given us into getting to know Him more, when we invest them in practical kindness, justice and righteousness, we delight the Creator of the Universe.
As high schools, colleges, and universities pass out awards for grades and sports achievements, we should be looking for the one who exuded the most kindness throughout their school years. Who have you seen be extraordinarily nice to another?
The world longs for justice. Unfortunately, I’m not sure humans really understand the word. Some believe taking from the strong and rich and giving to the weak and poor creates justice, but when I read about my just Creator in Scripture, this doesn’t appear to be the answer. God’s justice seems to be full of grace. The Psalmist even says, “God doesn’t treat me like my sins deserve.” (Psalm 103:10) True justice requires seeing what a person is capable of and not expecting any less.
When we look at justice through our own lens, it becomes even more difficult. Each of us sees the plight or offense just a bit differently. Only when we look at it through God’s eyes can we get it right. And we can only see it through the eyes of the Sovereign King when we immerse ourselves in scripture, study, and prayer. A golf handicap is a tremendous example of justice. The novice or unskilled get a few extra points to level the playing field. Even with a handicap, it’s difficult for me to come out on top in a golf match because the handicap doesn’t take away from the better players, it simply gives those less experienced a boost of confidence.
And God delights when we exercise righteousness. Only the Trinity is truly righteous. However, Christ’s death on the cross allows us to clothe ourselves with His righteousness. He wants to remove our heart of stone and replace it with a malleable organ, a heart that can be easily touched and broken but is also connected to the heart of the Father with the ability to see what righteousness is.
These are the signs of circumcision. The people of Israel had made the rite into a rule. They’d taken the symbol of belonging and turned it into a sign of exclusivity. We do the same thing when we worry about getting things right, checking all the holy boxes. The road to the Creator is not a list or a rule book. It’s a relationship, a desire to please the Almighty, a longing to give Him what His heart desires.