I was always told, as a youngster, that it is wrong (or, at least, bad form) to boast. And of course, as a Christian, it was hammered into me that you MUST be humble, the reason given was purportedly because God gives grace to the humble, but resists the proud (Prov 3:34, Jas 4:6, 1Pet 5:5). But in my view, those who didn’t like people boasting were usually those who didn’t feel like they had anything to boast about themselves and were therefore threatened by it.
Anyhow, I no longer agree. If something is worth telling, boast away!
Don’t get me wrong; no-one likes a braggart; a proud and arrogant person who is so conceited that all he can talk about is himself. That’s not what I’m talking about here.
In fact I would go as far as to say that humility and boasting are actually unrelated. You can have a conceited person (someone who is really full of themselves) who doesn’t boast, and a humble person who does boast.
Here’s a post from an online friend of mine:
“I’m seeing a lot of posts about humility. And to be honest I’m feeling kinda pissed off about them. What is so awful about owning your strengths and talents? What is so unforgivable about going bold or being loud? The worst thing I could be is unteachable. So I’m going to laugh too loud and be too much! I’m going to think I’m pretty ******* amazing because I’ve paid a hell of a price to be here! No more apologizing for who I am or what I can do or what I know. This is me! If that’s conceited I don’t give a ****.”
I replied thus:
“I don’t really think humility is about not being open about our strengths and our gifts. I’m humble, yes, but I’m also brilliant at loads of things, and yes I do mean loads. But I am fully cognizant that it is God has gifted me with all this, and I think that to deny our gifts is to deny how brilliant God is at making us the way we are. Boasting in the Lord (as the Scripture apparently allows!) includes boasting about how God has made us, like David does in Psalm 139. The only people who have any right to feel bad about those who are gifted, are those people who haven’t yet discovered their own gifts. A proper perspective on God being the Giver of all that is Good takes away all jealousy, covetousness and envy of another’s gifts, and instead allows us to rejoice with those who rejoice (Rom 12:15) and also enjoy our own gifts at the same time. That’s why covetousness is so painful: because it blocks us from rejoicing in our own blessings including our gifts.”
As for what humility actually looks like, consider what C. S. Lewis had to say about it in ‘Mere Chistianity’:
“Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody.
“Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him.
“If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”
– C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
I like this quote and I think it’s spot on!
So, don’t be afraid to tell of the things God has done. Just remember to be sensitive to those who haven’t yet found their own giftings and, if you can at all do so, maybe help them to find such giftings!
Finally, here’s another thought. So many people these days, ‘believers’ and ‘unbelievers’ alike, believe either consciously or subconsciously that God is somehow a mixture of good and evil. He’s not. In God, there is no balance. His mercy is not balanced by His judgement, and His love is not balanced by His ‘holiness’ (as some Christians understand it, as meaning stand-offishness). No, He’s all good, and in Him there is no darkness.
Jeremiah 9:23-24 says this:
“Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
or the strong boast of their strength
or the rich boast of their riches,
but let the one who boasts boast about this:
that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the Lord, who practises steadfast love,
justice and righteousness in the earth,
for in these I delight,”
declares the Lord.
Now that’s something else worth boasting about!
Peace and Grace to you 🙂
Note: Some swear-words have been redacted in this piece for the sole reason that some people (not including myself) find them offensive, and I don’t want to distract such sensitive people from the message I am trying to communicate. Some people have the incredible capacity to become more focused on the swear-words than they do on the point of the article, and that’s why I am leaving the words out. I do not believe in censorship, because I know that most sensible people are perfectly capable of making their own decisions without being told what to think or what not to look at! For more information on this kind of consideration, take a look at this article.