(2 Corinthians 10:13-18)
One of the things I heard years ago when I was in business, was that if you want to get ahead you had to be prepared to “blow your own horn.” To blow your own horn basically means to be prepared to put yourself up on a pedestal and to tell people how great you are.
Now I don’t know about you, but I was always uncomfortable with that statement, especially the principle that seems to be the foundation for these words. To me, this is boasting, and it smacks of pride and arrogance, which are two characteristics of man that have never led to anything good.
Boasting about your self is not good. Self-justification, self-aggrandizement and self- promotion to me seem to be too focused on “self” and as Christians we are told over and over to care about others more than ourselves and to worship and serve the Lord. So Paul teaches us a better way in these verses today.
Boasting Is Not Good
As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he went to great pains to ensure they would not think he was boasting. He did not want them to see or hear anything in him more than what they could see and hear for themselves. He wanted them to see him as he was and then decide for themselves whether he was trustworthy and worth believing.
The contrary view where a person is boastful and self-promoting, is where that person is trying hard to gain the acceptance of others by indicating how good they are. They speak of their achievements and activities to try to gain acceptance and credibility in the eyes of the people.
The challenge with self-promotion and boasting of oneself though, is that anything that is said is just an unsubstantiated opinion. It is an opinion that says, “trust me,” without building a basis for trust.
Paul did not want that to happen as he spoke among the churches. He wanted the people to find out who he was for themselves and not try to colour their opinions in any way. Although he could have proclaimed the many mighty works the Lord had done through him, and he could have pointed to the many people he had preached to, converted and reached, along with the churches he had started, he did not want those things to be the lenses through which people looked at him.
In the same way Jesus did not boast of His accomplishments. In most cases when Jesus healed the sick and cast out demons, His instructions to those healed was to thank the Lord God and not to tell anyone of the work Jesus had done.
Which brings us to the point of the scripture today.
If You Must Boast
Paul said it, and Jesus confirmed it in His life, that if you must boast, boast of the Lord. These scriptures say:
13 But we will not boast beyond limit, but will keep to the limits God has apportioned us, to reach even to you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach you; we were the first to come all the way to you with the gospel of Christ. 15 We do not boast beyond limit, in other men’s labors; but our hope is that as your faith increases, our field among you may be greatly enlarged, 16 so that we may preach the gospel in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in another’s field. 17 “Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord.” 18 For it is not the man who commends himself that is accepted, but the man whom the Lord commends. <2 Corinthians 10:13-18)
When Paul was boasting, it was not about the work he had done, but the work that the Lord had done through him. Paul’s work was not something he could do himself. The work is the Lord’s and He will have His servant where He wants them at the time the work needs to be done.
So if it is the Lord’s work and if it is His hand that guides and provides in the time of need, what is there for anyone to boast about? What is it that we can do without the Lord? What is it that we can achieve in the Lord’s name without His purpose being in it? I recall the scripture following that gives us an understanding of what we can and cannot do.
“And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one shall shut, who shuts and no one opens. (Revelation 3:7)
If we are unable to open or close a door unless the Lord has first opened or closed it, then what can we boast about when the Lord uses us to do His work? The truth is that we cannot boast about anything happening of our own power. All we can do is to recognise the working of the Lord in and through us and give Him the praise and glory that He has allowed us to be His servants in whatever the ministry was He was performing.
Boasting of ourselves is pride. But the Lord seeks humility in His people.
And even if or when the Lord uses us to do His work, we must continue to be humble and recognise that it IS HIS work and that we are just vessels.
When we boast of ourselves we are proud. But when we boast of the Lord, putting Him first in all things, then we are showing humility and recognising the sovereignty of God in our lives.
As the scripture today shows us also, it is not the man who commends himself that is accepted by God, but the man who God commends. The self-promoters and boasters are commending themselves, but the one who will be used of God is the one He chooses. We cannot choose ourselves. We cannot save another person just because we want them to be saved. It is the Lord’s work and if we must boast, as Paul said, boast that Jesus is working in the world today.
Jesus is alive. The church is not dead and the work of God is not fading away, contrary to what is often thought and said in the media. The power of God is very much alive and at work in the world as the Lord calls His people to Himself.
So seek Jesus in humility and do not boast and be false to the truth. The Lord will use those of His people who are trustworthy and humbled under His mighty hand. So be humble and not boastful.
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