Bragging rights

It’s been called “the Me Monster” — the insatiable desire to exalt oneself and boast in one’s accomplishments.  A toddler will say, “Watch me, Mommy.”  A mom might say, “I just got my child’s report card today…”  A businessman will say, “I just closed the deal I’ve been working on for six months…”  A pastor will say, “I have ____ people in my church…”  But it’s all the same kind of talk — “Look at me…Listen to my accomplishments…I am better…”

But all that kind of talk is deceptive.  And the one being deceived is the talker, not the listener:  “For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself” (Gal 6:3).  In the context of Galatians, the one who thinks he is something is the one who believes he has achieved a level of spiritual accomplishment through his legalism.  He believes that he cannot or will not sin.  But he has not rightly evaluated the condition of his heart and he is living a self-deceived life.

There is a place for boasting.  But the bragging rights of the believer are not what most people would think are worthy of a boast.  Listen to Scripture:

The believer should boast in his tribulations:

“And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance;” (Rom 5:3)

The believer should boast in the ministry of others:

“for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them.” (2 Cor 9:2; see also 2 Cor. 5:12; 7:14)

The believer should boast in his weakness:

“If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness.” (2 Cor 11:30; see also 12:5-6, 9)

The believer should boast in the perseverance of other believers:

“Therefore, we ourselves speak proudly of you among the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in the midst of all your persecutions and afflictions which you endure.” (2 Thess 1:4)

The believer should never boast in himself:

“…so that no man may boast before God.” (1 Cor. 1:29)

“So then let no one boast in men.” (1 Cor. 3:21a)

“For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Cor. 4:7; see also 2 Cor. 10:13, 15-16; Eph. 2:9).

But the ultimate source of a believer’s pride is still in another place:

“But may it never be that I would boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Gal 6:14–15)

The believer boasts in the most shameful instrument of death — the cross — because without the cross of Christ there is no redemption, no propitiation, no forgiveness, no justification, and no sanctification.  Without the cross of Christ, he is nothing.  And if he is something, he is only something because of the cross of Christ.

So boast today.  But boast only in Christ’s cross.

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