One of my favorite hymns is by Isaac Watts. Watts was a prolific writer and I enjoy many of his selections. The one I am drawn to the most though is one titled, I Boast No More. These are the lyrics to this great and humbling hymn:
No more, my God, I boast no more
Of all the duties I have done;
I quit the hopes I held before,
To trust the merits of Thy Son
Chorus: No more my God,
No more my God,
No more my God,
I boast no more.
Now, for the loss I bear His name,
What was my gain I count my loss;
My former pride I call my shame,
And nail my glory to His cross.
Bridge: Yes, and I must and will esteem
All things but loss for Jesus’ sake;
O may my soul be found in Him,
And of His righteousness partake!
The best obedience of my hands
Dares not appear before Thy throne;
But faith can answer Thy demands,
By pleading what my Lord has done.
(Repeat chorus twice)
So often I find myself boasting, boasting about this or that. Boasting with haughty spirit, upturned nose and puffed out chest. I believe my own propaganda.
I feel proud, accomplished simply because I have kept a quiet time for X number of days in a row. Or because I have prayed long and hard for a brother or sister or stranger. Look at me! my prideful heart cries with all the avarice of a Pharisee. It’s as if I think a marble monument should be erected in honor of my spiritual dedication and sacrifice.
Of course, the reality is I have given up little. I have suffered even less. All around the world, in countless countries and cities and alleys there are believers in Christ who are being tortured, raped, sodomized, and murdered. These faithful martyrs who bear in their bodies, their mortal bodies, the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The problem we have in the American church with all our escapism and fancy is that we are too soft. We are weak. We are wimps and weaklings. I don’t mean to judge or be harsh, but I am one and I have met my fair share. True, there are exceptions; but that’s just it, they are the exceptions.
When things seem to be going against us, whether socially or politically, we cry out at the injustice. We have had it easy in America for too long. We have grown accustomed to church and state being almost inseparable. We have had our cake and ate it too; in fact, we have gorged ourselves on the leftovers.
But the leftovers are running out. And maybe, that’s a good thing.
We are not yet home. This is not our promised land. We are strangers, sojourners in a foreign land. We are pilgrims on alien terra firma.
Now for the loss I bear his name, what was my gain I count my loss . . .
Where then is boasting? Where then is pride?
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches.” (Jer. 9.23)
But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (Phil. 3.7-9)