God does not Boast

“Attributes of Love” Series Introduction:  1 John 4:8 tells us that “God is love”, and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 lists the attributes of love. So in this series, we’re going to discuss each of the attributes in those verses, one by one, to learn more about the nature of God.

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What is the purpose of boasting? It isn’t just to state a fact: “I won this trophy” or “I can deadlift 180lbs”. Even if you’re filling out a job application or writing your memoirs, these aren’t just random facts. The point of these facts is to distinguish oneself. To show how you are better than most other people.

God does not boast. He doesn’t need to! He is the maker of all things, and the God of the universe. There is no need to distinguish Himself, because there is none like Him – no one to compare Him to. There is no “lesser” or “better” version of God, that He needs to show that He is better than.

2 Samuel 22:31 This God—his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

So how does God feel about our boasting?

Psalm 5:5 The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.

Psalm 75:4 I say to the boastful, ‘Do not boast,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horn…’

Whoa, that seems kind of harsh, God. A little bit of bragging, and you call someone evil? But, as we explained above, the point of boasting, or bragging, is to set ourselves as higher than others. To do that, we are essentially putting others below ourselves. God is love, and He calls us to be love as well…and love puts others above oneself.

Philippians 2:3 Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.

This is not so that we can be taken advantage of, and it is not God’s intent that His people be perceived as…somehow lesser people. In fact, it is quite the opposite! It is so that we can be honored! Jesus told the parable of the guests at the wedding feast each choosing to seat themselves in places of honor, then being shamed when they were asked to make way for someone else. He tells us:

Luke 14:8-11 “But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”

If you set yourself up as the greatest, there’s nowhere to go but down. There is always someone better, or someone more deserving. There is always a day coming when you will fall short. That’s why the Bible says:

Jeremiah 9:23  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..”

This is because those things are not ours to own. (They are granted to us for a time, but we are foolish if we think that it was by our own work alone that we received them – as if God had no hand in His creation.) But then in the next verse it says:

Jeremiah 9:24 …but let him who boastboast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”

Then it says something similar in the New Testament:

Galatians 6:14 But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

So, the one place that boasting has in this world is when it points upward, to God. That’s not to say that you should include your accomplishments on your resume, or in your memoirs.  But when you’re writing your memoir, be sure to give credit to the one who made those things possible. (And when you attend a banquet, if there are no place cards, you can never go wrong by taking the lowliest seat.)

Lord, help me to remember that everything I have, and everything I attain, comes from you. Remind me, but gently, that even though I may put in a lot of hard work, it could amount to nothing without your protection and care. Help me to be humble – except when it comes to boasting about my savior. Then, help me to speak so that others will honor YOU.

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