“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, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practises steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, says the Lord.” Jeremiah 9:23-24
Power. Knowledge is power. Strength is power. Wealth is power.
Power is exalted in the world. Few would deny it. Many seek it. We praise those with power. We envy those with power. We delight in power.
We say, that CEO is a Christian, praise God! We say, that Minister professes Christian values, praise God! We say, that pop star said “God”, praise God! We are saying, they have power and we want to be like them.
But this power is nothing.
The almighty God judges not by how much power one has. In the verse preceding this, God declares: “Thus declares the LORD, ‘The dead bodies of men shall fall like dung upon the open field, like sheaves after the reaper, and none shall gather them.'” God judged those with much power and sentenced them to a severe penalty. The cinematic scene is vivid. The putrid stench must reach our noses. The closing shot lingers long.
There is only one measure in God’s judgment. That is to understand and know God. To understand and to know His character is not merely head knowledge. It means to internalise His character. It means to become the same as Him. It means to externalise the internalised.
That means to know His steadfast love, His loving kindness, His covenantal faithfulness, His mercy. This is to refrain from exercising power despite entitlement. It is to eschew power to preserve loyalty. It is to exercise power to give others beyond what they deserve.
That means to know His justice. That is to curb power to protect the weak. That is to wield power to enfold those at the margins. That is to exercise power fairly and truthfully.
That means to know His righteousness. That is to live in right relations with every human being and with every creature of the earth and with God. That is to live the good life, not the perverse or corrupt life.
These things–steadfast love, justice and righteousness–are the things God delights in.
What do we delight in? Ice cream after a long day of work? A long awaited sci-fi cult film? The melodies of a favourite artiste? Or the smile of your baby after her intense crying? Or affirmation from one’s employer for a job well done? Do the three things God delights in delight us when we see it in others? Do we delight when we see our brothers and sisters and our children and our friends practise them?
So let us boast only in this. Let us delight in this. That we know God, know His steadfast love, justice and righteousness on earth.