“But God forbid that I should glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14)
Devotion: True Christ-Followers do not only believe in the cross, they glory in it! What the apostle means in the verse above is that he not only admires it, he not only believes in it, but he is moved by it. He is captivated by it. He says here, “God forbid that I should glory, except…”
In other words, Christ-Followers don’t just glory in the cross, they glory in the cross alone. They boast…they glory in nothing else. As Christ hung on the cross He accomplished everything His Father sent him to do. He finally cried out “it is finished,” and with that final breath he took on the tattered clothing of all the broken, self-centeredness we had to offer, and handed us the very righteousness of God to wear in exchange. Hear how Isaac Watts puts it:
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
There is an exclusiveness about it. This means that to the Christ-Follower, this is the most monumental thing in history – the most important event that has ever taken place. It means that we rest everything upon this… that we are what we are because of this. We glory in it.
‘We never move on from the cross, only into a more profound understanding of the cross’
- CJ Mahaney
I must quote Isaac Watts again, because I think he makes this so clear. He says, ‘When I survey the wondrous cross,’ and I don’t think anyone glories in it until they have surveyed it. If you take a casual glance at it, you say, ‘Yes, I believe in it.’ But men like these have been moved by it! Listen to men like Isaac Watts and Charles Wesley, listen to all of them. These men have really seen the meaning of the cross. They can’t contain themselves! They can’t express themselves! Why? The only secret is this: they have been surveying it and looking at it; they have been gazing at it!
Here is a very good question for us to ponder: How much time do you spend thinking about the cross, looking at it, gazing upon it, surveying it from all its angles?
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Prayer: Jesus, When I mute my heart to the insult of grace, I deny your cross. When I think, even for one moment, that my obedience merits anything, I deny your cross. When I put others under the microscope and measure of performance-based living, I deny your cross. When I wallow in self-contempt and shame, I deny your cross. When I’d rather do penance than repent, I deny your cross. By the power of the gospel and the work of the Spirit, help me to “mind the things of God” much more than the things of men. May your cross get bigger and bigger in my gaze during Lent, and may my boast in it grow louder and louder in life. Jesus, you’re the only hero in the Bible. You’re my substitute to embrace before you’re my example to follow. I don’t need a second chance, I just need you, the second Adam. So very Amen I pray, in your patient and persistent name. (Prayer by Scotty Smith)
Action Step: Tear up the list… Profound Humility is our only reasonable response to the cross. Christ’s death reminds us that we have nothing of our own, but we have everything in Him. We often come to God with a resume or a rap sheet (our good works and failures).
1) List some of the things you feel you have to offer God (successes, expertise, riches, education, ministry experience, and many other good works and good things). Also list some of the failures you have had in your life (failures, sins, addictions, bad decisions, unforgiveness…etc.) When you look at this list, consider how you have allowed yourself to become defined by these things… How does Christ’s work on the cross save you from finding your identity in your own works (good and bad)? How does it in the same moment humble you to the earth, yet lift you up into the heavens?
2) If you are bold enough and your complete trust is no longer in those works you have done… If your identity and hope is in Christ alone…. Take that list in your hands and tear that list up as a symbol of the truth that we bring nothing to the cross… that our identity is not in our own works any longer and now you have a completely new identity in Christ alone… you’ve traded your works, for Christ’s!