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Boast in the Lord

No one enjoys listening to a braggart.  To hear a man talk about his own greatness is annoying and even obnoxious. A braggart certainly does not endear himself to others, and he doesn't win many friends.  His singular interest in his own superiority and his apparent disinterest for others tends to turn people away from him or even against him.

Why then does a person brag?  The reason is that he craves attention and praise.  It is rather ironic because his efforts are self-defeating; the more he brags on himself, the less others will speak well of him.  He would be better served to observe Proverbs 27:2, which says, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips."  However, if his own virtues and achievements are too insignificant to draw the praise of others, then the braggart will boast for himself to satisfy his own desire for praise.  Even if his accomplishments are praised by others, this only causes the braggart to brag more, for his self-absorption is reinforced by their praise.

Generally, people tend to brag about the same things.  Intellectual snobs boast of their great learning and knowledge that make them feel superior to others.  Those who are conceited in their physiques and athleticism brag about their strength and appearance and exhibit their bodies in an immodest, nonverbal form of boasting.  Those who are proud of their wealth flaunt their riches and boast of their possessions as if their lives consist solely of these material things (Luke 12:15).  Some even brag about how religious they are, such as the Pharisee who was so self-righteous that he bragged to God (Luke 18:11-12).

God puts to shame those who brag about themselves. For those who are wise in their own eyes, "God made foolish the wisdom of the world" (1Cor. 1:20), and they are just fools in the sight of God.  For those who are vain in the greatness of their flesh, God says, "All flesh is like grass, and all its glory like the flower of grass.  The grass withers, and the flower falls off" (1Pet. 1:24).  Age, sickness, and injury ravage the physical body, and their vanity is for nothing.  As for those who brag of riches, death will separate them from their possessions, and those things will belong to others (Luke 12:15-21).  When they stand before the Lord in the Judgment, they will have nothing to show for their lives.  Concerning those who are proud of their religion, they should remember that it was the lowly tax-gatherer who was justified and not the proud Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14).  If they are to be saved, then it is a credit to God, for Ephesians 2:8-9 says,

8For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.

However, there is one area where God commends bragging. Such boasting does not attempt to exalt the one who boasts, but rather it gives praise to God, who is truly worthy. Notice Jeremiah 9:23-24:

23Thus says the LORD, "Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things," declares the LORD.

Only those who have come to know God have room for boasting, and their boasts should be nothing more than words of praise for Him. Consider 1Corinthians 1:26-31:

26For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29so that no man may boast before God.  30But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31so that, just as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."

Therefore, let all braggarts be silenced, but let those who boast in the Lord ring out praise for Him.  There is no lasting merit for men in worldly wisdom, physical strength and beauty, material wealth, or self-righteousness, but the glory of God is eternally praiseworthy. Those who know Him may boldly boast of their God before others so that He may be exalted and they may come to know Him also.  "Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord."

Stacey E. Durham



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