If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. – 2 Corinthians 11:30
In our celebrity-driven culture, the insatiable need for attention and self-aggrandizement grows at a quickening pace. With all the modes of communication today, it’s hard to keep up! With the opportunity to share life with one another in several ways, we can find ourselves running into the traps of being self-consummed with our world, our goals and our successes. The worst form of this is when we deny we are promoting ourselves, wrapping our comments and stories in false humility.
Allow me to explain…and let’s see if you have run into this from time to time:
EXAMPLE #1: “Boasting In Success and Then Giving Glory To God!”
Have you ever heard someone remark on their successes, what they accomplished and how they were so overwhelmed by their many talents…then bookend their comments with “I give all glory to God!”? Tagging God at the end of your verbal resume as if you are tagging a photo reeks of a pride cover-up! When someone shares a testimony or God’s blessings in their life, we should collectively celebrate the goodness and faithfulness of God. But, there is a vast difference between a bragging about the wonders of the Lord in your life and bragging about what a wonder you are!
EXAMPLE #2: “Boasting In Success — Already Knowing The Person You Share It With Would Like The Same Thing”
I don’t hear this talked about often, but here it goes. If you know you have received a measure of success in an area, it should beckon a humility and a call to inspire others to reach (if not exceed) what you have been enabled to do. Throughout my life, I have had family members, mentors and friends inspire me through their hard work, tenacity, and healthy ambition to achieve excellence. I’ve learned the art of dismissing excuses and tackling the challenges that lie ahead. For that, I am eternally grateful.
However, if you already know someone is praying, working hard and striving for something you have received, why would you boast in their face? Why mention it every time you are in conversation with them (directly, indirectly or in a subtle manner not to raise ‘red flags of pride’)? Why deliberately provoke jealousy, envy and unhealthy competition? For what? Isn’t your success satisfying enough? The danger of this type of boasting is that your success and blessings are not enough. Unfortunately, too many find pleasure in another’s sufferings. If you cannot find satisfaction in your achievements without trashing someone else, you will never be truly successful.
EXAMPLE #3: “Boasting Incessantly About You and Then Wonder Why You Have “HATERS”!”
My generation has coined the term haters. My parent’s generation used the word backstabbers. The lyrics to a classic song by The O’Jays rings true for many: “They smile in your face, all the time they want to take your place, the backstabbers!” In this life, you will have life-long backers and supporters. You will also face those that may not be fond of you — for a variety of reasons. Some reasons are out of your control. But, for that which is in your wheelhouse, why provoke people to not like you? It’s as if our success is measured solely on how many haters we claim we have. Our successes and blessings should be measured on how we love, not how much hate surrounds us.
BOAST IN YOUR WEAKNESS
There are many other examples of boasting that is veiled in false humility, cloaked in false platitudes, and surrounded by wrong motives. But, I don’t hear much about boasting in what Scripture speaks of — your weakness. Boasting in your weakness is not popular. Who wants to willingly reveal their struggles and failings? It takes a level of maturity to share the whole self: the ups, the downs, and the in-betweens. In 2 Corinthians 11:30, the Apostle Paul makes it plain – boast in your weakness. Paul was embarrassed by a late night escape from Damascus in a basket, but he shared it. In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, he speaks of the the “thorn in his flesh” but how God’s grace is sufficient; in his weakness, God is strong.
Imagine if we (you and I) would be so bold to boast in our weakness. Our sharing would not strive to “bleed on” others for the sake of sympathy, but sharing for the purpose of glorifying God and His strength. The Apostle Paul’s example of boasting in his weakness showed his strength. Rather than taking credit for his great exploits, He gave all glory to God. The record is clear — Paul is a major hero in the New Testament Scriptures. But, his heroism was not marked solely by his missionary resume; it was and is demonstrated in his humanity.
Let’s boast in our God, what He has and is doing in our lives. Let our lives shine brightly — for Him. Share your testimony but for the sake of the Gospel. Inspire others to achieve greatness rather than lording your success over them. As we are in this learning journey together, I pray we avoid the dangers of boasting for the wrong reasons and embrace the joy of boasting in our God! – RF