Boasting in the Lord

We have all met people who like to boast. It seems that they always turn the conversation back to themselves as they craftily work into the dialog their accomplishments or their possessions. You will find people who boast about worldly things and you will find those in the church who also boast about their achievements. Social media has become a forum for many to boast and to announce their accomplishments and good deeds.

The Apostle Paul wrote a lot about boasting in his second letter to the Corinthians. Paul is having a difficult time with the church at Corinth. Many in the church at Corinth have accepted Paul and his authority as an apostle but there is a group that is committing slander against Paul. They accuse him of being bold when writing to them but timid when meeting them face to face.

Paul writes that he will boast only about the work of spreading the Gospel that the Lord has given him to do. 2 Corinthians 10:13: “We, however will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the sphere of service God himself has assigned to us, a sphere that also includes you.” Paul is adamant that he will not boast or take credit for the work that others have done. 2 Corinthians 10:15: “Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others.” Paul then concludes chapter 10 by saying: “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord. For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18).

Paul is being forced to defend his ministry which was given to him by Christ. If anyone could boast, it certainly would be Paul. However, Paul reminds us that we must always be careful to give all of the glory back to God for anything that we are able to accomplish in His name. As weak and mostly ineffective human beings, we must be careful to not become arrogant or overstate our own self-importance. We should remember that it is only by God’s power that we are able to accomplish anything worthwhile in His name. “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.”

If Paul had the internet back then he could have boasted to everyone about “being flogged, exposed to death again and again, being beaten with rods, ship-wrecked three times, in danger from rivers, and from bandits, as well as from his fellow Jews and also Gentiles.” He could have bragged about being hungry and thirsty and being cold and naked, as well as facing the daily pressures of caring for all of the churches that he helped to establish. (See 2 Corinthians chapter 11).

But Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 11:30: “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” You see, that’s how God works. He chooses those of us who are weak to carry out His work, because in our weakness, God’s power and glory is made known. I find that to be especially true of my own life, because I could not do what I do, except for the power of God, that He gives to those of us who are weak. Like Paul, we must boast only in our weakness through which the power of God and the Cross is made evident. Let your work be commended, not by your own boasting, but through God.

“For to be sure, he (Christ) was crucified in weakness, yet he lives by God’s power. Likewise, we are weak in him, yet by God’s power we will live with him in our dealing with you” (2 Corinthians 13:4).

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