To boast is to puff oneself up in speech, to talk too proudly about one’s abilities, achievements, or possessions. It always carries a negative tone when someone wishes to boast. The Bible gives us the reason why no one can boast in the presence of God.
“Brothers, consider your calling: not many are wise from a human perspective, not many powerful, not many of noble birth. Instead, God has chosen the world’s foolish things to shame the wise, and God has chosen the world’s weak things to shame the strong. God has chosen the world’s insignificant and despised things— the things viewed as nothing—so He might bring to nothing the things that are viewed as something, so that no one can boast in his presence.” (1 Corinthians 1: 26-29, HCSB)
This passage reveals God’s ability to glorify Himself even in our weakness. Whatever good may come from our ministry, we have no reason to boast because humanly speaking we are “weak, foolish, lowly and despised”. All the glory goes to God and God alone.
“But from Him you are in Christ Jesus, who for us became wisdom from God, as well as righteousness, sanctification, and redemption, in order that, as it is written: The one who boasts must boast in the Lord…” (1 Corinthians 1:30-31, HCSB)
The word “boast” here carries a positive tone. Paul’s statement about boasting in the Lord has nothing to do with worldly possessions. Paul is obviously not talking about sinful boasting in 1 Corinthians as pride is condemned in Scriptures. Proverbs 11:2 (NLT) says: “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” The reason to boast in the Lord is that He has granted us redemption, righteousness, wisdom and sanctification.
Paul probably quoted from Jeremiah 9:23-24 when he said “the one who boasts must boast in the Lord”. What kinds of people are more inclined to boast of their own achievements? They are the wise, the mighty and the rich. We can still find these groups of people today.
“Thus 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; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness in earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 9: 23-24 NASB)
True boasting in the Lord is actually boasting of the Lord – boasting of His attributes, boasting of what He has done for us, of what He is doing and of what He has promised to do. From Jeremiah’s verse, we can see that God is a God of unfailing love, of justice and righteousness.
As a disciple of Jesus, God delights in us when we boast in the Lord. To boast in the Lord is to tell what the Lord has done so that people may truly know Him and his attributes such as unfailing love, faithfulness, compassion and greatness. To boast in the Lord is also to tell what He is doing and what He has promised to do in the future.
God will not be pleased when we boast about ourselves, whether we are rich or poor, mighty or weak, rich or poor. So, let us echo what the Psalmist says: “My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice. Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together” Psalm 34:2-3 (NIV).
By Brother Yue Fah Yong (YCKC Bulletin 25 Oct 2020)