All men tend towards pride.
A wise man’s temptation is to boast in his own wisdom. A strong man is tempted to boast in his own strength. A rich man is tempted to boast about his riches (Jer. 9:23).
There is a two-fold problem with this pride. First, the pride is rooted in an exaltation of self. This self-worship arises from the fact that we believe that we have acquired our possessions on our own — our wisdom is of our own abilities, our strength by our own discipline and our riches by our own labor and merit. As such, this boasting is not only a claim to self-sufficiency (“I did it myself”), but also a tacit claim to self-existence. It presupposes that we are dependent on no one and nothing else. We have what we have because we have made it ourselves, we delusionally suggest to ourselves. And to make it ourselves means that we must be dependent on no one for anything — we can be and do whatever we want because we have innate (and infinite) power in ourselves. And because of this, not only do I not need to worship another, but I am worthy of worship from myself and others. This is the epitome of hubris.
Secondly, there is a place for boasting, but all boasting should terminate in the Lord (Jer. 9:24). All boasting should terminate in God because only He is self-existent. He depends on no one. And all men are in fact dependent on Him. Tragically, this is exactly what the Israelites misunderstood. They assumed their position in the world was due to their work and labor and not the Lord. And even when He corrected them through the words of the prophets, they continued on their own sinful way, convinced that their sin was better than God and that their status was determined by their own work. Their boasting was a declaration of self-autonomy from the decrees of God.
These warning words from Jeremiah were not just for Israel, however; they were also given as an example to us today (1 Cor. 10:11). This kind of boasting was not particular to only Israel. Prideful declaration is the kind of world in which all men reside. Me too. Especially me.
I need the reminder that to be boastful in myself is not only to lie to myself about my position in the world but it is also to attempt to usurp worship and adoration that belongs to the Lord alone. Boast, boast ever so much, but let all that boasting be in the grace, justice and righteousness of God. Boast in these things because they are the object of God’s own delight.