Series: The Justified
Preacher: Japhet De Oliveira
Reflection: Japhet De Oliveira
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Becky De Oliveira
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 5:1-11 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: About a year ago, when my parents moved to a much smaller home, they shared some of my childhood things they had kept all these years. I found an old English folder from school in which I had drawn a picture of Asterix from the famous French comic books depicting the adventures of Asterix and Obelix. I had also written a little rhyme:
I love to do my English, it makes me feel so good.
I love to do exactly as my teacher thinks I should.
I love my school so very much, I never ditch a day,
I even love the men in white who are taking me away!
Clearly, I either had some issues or a brilliant sense of humor. Hard to know. There is a similar paradox about boasting. Is it possible to be humble in our boasting? Paul seems to think the answer is yes. He seems to think that if your boasting is not about you, you will not experience tension. He thinks that to boast about Jesus is a good thing. If we boast in Jesus, this shows that we are putting our trust in Him. The boasting Paul is talking about is not the excessive self-regard of Psalms 52:1; 74:4, but the idea that in God all things are good and that He is worth bragging about (Jeremiah 9:23).
What if we rely on ourselves and our skills, if we rely on our personality and preferences, if we rely on our abilities and talents? Could those be the reasons our pride grows and we end up boasting about our faith? Could this be the core of the paradox about boasting—that we find it really hard to share our “humble” story about Jesus and not sound like we are boasting? In order to counter that reality, we simply choose to share nothing. We stop sharing all together.
Paul wants us to rejoice in God. He wants us, as we read yesterday, to shout about God from the mountaintop. He wants us to shout that it is not us, but God who has made, is making, and will continue to make a difference. This is because of His faithfulness. Because of Him, we are new people.
Recalibrate: What would make boasting in God natural to more people?
Respond: Pray for the opportunity to boast in God.
Research: Read this passage as translated by N.T. Wright in The Kingdom New Testament: A Contemporary Translation.
Remember: “Hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5, ESV).
Japhet is senior pastor at Boulder Adventist Church in Boulder, Colorado, and was co-founder of the One project. Originally from southeast London, he served in the South England Conference for nine years—as a pastor and later as conference youth director—before moving to the United States in 2006. He is married to Becky and they have two sons, Joshua (18) and Jonah (14).
Paul tells us we can rejoice in our suffering. Not quite the thing you want to hear if you’re in the middle of suffering. What have been the hardest parts of parenting your zero- to three-year-old so far? Make up a happy song with your child to sing when times aren’t so great. Sing it when yogurt gets spilled all over the floor. Sing it when any little bit of suffering comes up today so that you can remember to rejoice even when things aren’t going perfectly.
What do you do or say when something bad happens? Do you throw a party? You don’t? Paul tells us that we can rejoice in the bad things because the bad things give us strength, make us better people, and give us hope! Make a party hat out of plain paper and add a string so you can tie it on your head. This is your “bad day” party hat. Whenever you’re having a bad day or something not so good happens, put on your hat, play your favorite song, and have a little party!
I used to carpool to school with a boy who boasted about everything. “I’m much smarter than you are,” he would say, almost every day. “That’s why my head is so much bigger than yours. I have a really large brain.” Even now, this makes me laugh. Imagine boasting about having an unusually large head! But really, boasting about anything is a little ridiculous, given that very little of what we are is down to our particular merit. It’s not within our control. How can we show appreciation for the good work God is doing in us without being boastful? How can we learn to boast about God rather than about ourselves?