Forbid It, Lord, That I Should Boast

crossandcloudsWhen 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.

Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.

See from His head, His hands, His feet,
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?

His dying crimson, like a robe,
Spreads o’er His body on the tree;
Then I am dead to all the globe,
And all the globe is dead to me.

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.

Words by Isaac Watts, 1707
Music by Lowell Mason, 1824

 


But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.
1 Corinthians 6:14

But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith. I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:7 – 11

And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God. For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.
1 Corinthians 2:1 – 5


 

We always want to encourage children in their efforts. We want them to grow to have confidence in what they do. I know I received this encouragement. But as I got older I remember this beginning to sink in differently. I began to transition from confidence in what I was doing to pride in what I had done. And what was wrong with that? I had accomplished something significant, why shouldn’t I be proud? But before long I found myself seeing “my” accomplishment as deserving to be praised. In fact, I simply expected it.

Now, I know I am not alone in this. Most of us have been there. For some, it is one particular thing that they are indeed accomplished at for which people praise them. For others, they have simply come to believe they are good at everything, and they may be. It is this pride in our accomplishment, however, that can become our greatest barrier to knowing Christ and accepting His gift of salvation.

This is the theme of”When I survey.” Isaac Watts realized it over three-hundred years ago, and it is the same today. Our nature is to look inward, and see ourselves and our accomplishment. But we need to stop, and change our focus from inward, to Christ. When we do this, our perspective on our accomplishments will change. Watts writes, “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.”

This is what Paul is telling us in Philippians 3:7 – 9 when he says, “whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, 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 is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God on the basis of faith.”

As much as I may have learned to be proud of my accomplishments, and sometimes for valid reasons, when I compare them to the actions of Christ they are meaningless. In fact, it is contemptuous for me to even compare them to Christ sacrifice. It is for this reason that Watts goes on to write, “Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, Save in the death of Christ my God!”

For all I have accomplished the only thing that should be praised, is the sacrifice Christ made for me and all who believe. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 6:14, “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” No matter how great, how big, how significant of things I have accomplished, they are nothing compared to Christ sacrifice on the Cross. A sacrifice that has reconciled us with God. “For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God.” (1 Peter 3:18) It is for this reason that Watts writes, “All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.”

I and my accomplishments are nothing compared to what Christ has done, and there is nothing I can do to repay it. So, I triumphantly sing the words of Isaac Watts, “Were the whole realm of nature mine, That were a present far too small; Love so amazing, so divine, Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

 

 

Read more about “When I Survey.”

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