Jeffrey Gitomer, while giving advice to salesmen, noted, “My experience has shown me that if you have to say what you are, you probably aren’t. Think about that for a moment. ‘I’m honest,’ ‘I’m ethical,’ even ‘I’m the boss,’ or ‘I’m in charge,’ usually indicates just the opposite. Doesn’t it?” CherLisa Biles would agree; she said, “There is no need to boast of your accomplishments and what you can do. A great man is known, he needs no introduction.”
The truth of these words can be seen in examples such as the used car dealer calling himself “Honest John,” who had a reputation for making shady deals with his customers. We should not want or need to tell others how wonderful we are. Solomon’s advice is to “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.”
Isaiah warns us about boasting, “Shall the axe boast over him who hews with it, or the saw magnify itself against him who wields it? As if a rod should wield him who lifts it, or as if a staff should lift him who is not wood.” We are God’s creation. We cannot take credit for what we manage to accomplish because of how God made us. Paul tells us, “For who sees anything different in you? What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” All that we are and have is a gift from God. James makes it clear, “You boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.”
Remember a famous world heavy weight boxing champion who used to strut around and stick out his chest saying, “I’m the greatest?” He lost his abilities and faded from the public eye after losing his mind due to blows to his head. Remember the ocean liner that advertised that it was unsinkable — until the Titanic ran into an iceberg and sank? God can bring all mankind’s boasting to nothing.
Is boasting ever a good thing? We learn in Micah,
“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 practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.’”
We should boast in knowing our God and obeying Him. As Paul tells us, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
Paul does boast. He tells us, “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.” Any other boasting must be of only one kind, as Paul explains, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” Paul was afflicted with what he called a “thorn in the flesh” that he prayerfully begged to have removed. The answer God gave him was “My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Paul concluded, as he tells us,
“Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The greatest man that ever lived was the Lord Jesus Christ. He describes himself by saying, “I am meek and lowly in heart:” Paul explains what meekness meant for our Lord:
“But [he] made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Jesus took no credit even for the words he spoke, explaining that he spoke only what the Father gave him to speak, and he submitted to His Father’s will in all things, even though it involved suffering and dying. He never would give himself glory, but only gave glory to God.
Let us follow the example of our Lord and humbly serve our God. Any boasting must be of our thankfulness for the hope of salvation we have been given from the sacrifice of our Lord, and appreciation for our weaknesses. When we feel weak, we learn to depend on the Lord, to trust in his strength, as Paul did. There should be no boasting about anything else.
We are thankful for the love and strength that we have been given, and while we do not take credit for any achievements, and recognize our weakness and dependence on our God, yet, as Paul tells us,
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Robert J. Lloyd