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.
Paul here uses pronouncedly strong language to make it clear that the only thing worth glorying in is the cross of our Lord Jesus. He has spent the whole book arguing for justification by faith alone, and that our works of righteousness will not and can never justify us before a holy God. This is how Paul chooses to close this great epistle: glorying in the cross of Christ.
As good Christians, however, we are ever so tempted to boast in my accomplishments, attainments, talents, and goodness. We are quite prone to be able to effectively outline and exegete the Gospel, but fail to truly glory and believe that same Gospel. We “men of the book”, especially, must stay vigilant on the watchtower for the sniveling worm of pride, who is ever clever at breaching the walls of our heart and infecting even our best of labors with self-glorifying motives.
You see the cross of the Lord Jesus is not a piece of gold jewelry around the neck, a nice mosaic in a chapel, or a soft and sunny feeling; it is as brutal as a hangman’s noose, as shameful as a crooked trial, as horrific as a baby lamb’s throat being slit, and as unjust as the only innocent man being treated as Sin itself. Think on this: Christ was treated as a criminal by the Jews, but was treated as the Crime by God the Father; and then He crushed His only beloved Son.
This is what Paul says he glories in; not in fame, fortune, family, or feats. He gloried in God’s Son being horrifically slaughtered, and in that death, standing in our stead so that we might be dead to this sinful, fallen world, and so that this world might be reckoned as dead to us.
I must confess my own propensity towards glorying in good things (family, good food, a cozy home, a stable income, a protected & wisely governed country, a peaceful world, etc.), at the cost of glorying in the most glorious thing. This boils down to a very simple axiom: love the world, and lose Christ; love Christ, get the world thrown in too!
Turning our eyes upon Jesus, as the old hymn says, doesn’t merely make the things of earth grow strangely dim, it also makes our sight crystal clear as to what matters, and how enjoy–to His glory–the good gifts the Father has lavished on us. So, let us more eagerly seek to be often humbled, and made into the sort of men who glory in Christ, and spurn self’s vain glory. As one hymn-writer put it: my sinful self my only shame, my glory all the cross.