We live in a world filled with pride and selfishness. People are running to and fro without rest to achieve many things like name, fame and money. They are trying to make themselves look good, make others feel proud about them, brag about them. Our world is filled with compliments, achievements, merits and success. We are expected to climb the ladders of life while people cheer for us. Even people so called ‘selfless acts of kindness’ to get attention, political gain and appreciation. Social media and digital life has added so much into this chaos. In the olden days it was mostly about parents boasting about their kids or kids boasting about their parents, only to family members, neighbors or friends. Now it is openly boasting about everything and anything in your life to the entire world.
What are you boasting about these days?!. Is it about your family, or spouse, or children, or job, position, career achievements, influence, financial stability, friendships, education, talents, experiences, health, beauty, fitness, prayer life, bible knowledge, church strength, ministries you are involved in, charity, your hobbies, the place you are living, places you visited, number people you shared gospel with, the likes you got, the number of followers and subscribers in social media whatever it is you think is worth boasting about can never ever be compared to the value, greatness and significance of what the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did for us on that cross!!.
Bible is very clear that God hates human pride. Pride is when we boast or brag about ourselves rather than God Almighty. Pride is feeling satisfaction and sufficiency in our own strength rather than relying on God.
“..God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”
Luke 16:15 ESV
“…God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5 ESV
Lessons from apostle Paul’s life
Let us look into the life of Apostle Paul. He is giving a big list of things about his religion, status, education and work, things he can boast about in the book of Philippians.
- He was circumcised when he was eight days old.
- He is a pure-blooded citizen of Israel, a Jew, a member of the tribe of Benjamin—a real Hebrew if there ever was one!
- He was a member of the Pharisees, who demand the strictest obedience to the Jewish law.
- He was so zealous that he harshly persecuted the church.
- And as for righteousness, Paul obeyed the law without fault.
- In Acts 22:3 Paul says he was taught by Gamaliel and was thoroughly trained in the law.
- When he preached people were healed, demons cast out, signs wonders and miracles happened.
- He was used by God to establish churches.
- He started his ministry after a powerful encounter with Jesus on the way to Damascus ( Acts 9)
- If it is about the books he wrote , he wrote 14 epistles upon the inspiration of Holy Spirit.
We also read about the persecution Paul went through for the sake of the gospel. He has all the reasons to brag about it.
- Paul was put in prison more often,
- been whipped times without number, and
- faced death again and again.
- Five different times the Jewish leaders gave me thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods.
- Once he was stoned.
- Three times shipwrecked.
- Once he spent a whole night and a day adrift at sea.
- traveled on many long journeys.
- faced danger from rivers and from robbers.
- faced danger from my own people, the Jews, as well as from the Gentiles.
- faced danger in the cities, in the deserts, and on the seas.
- faced danger from men who claim to be believers but are not.
- worked hard and long, enduring many sleepless nights.
- Been hungry and thirsty and have often gone without food.
- shivered in the cold, without enough clothing to keep warm,
- besides all this, Paul says he has the daily burden of concern for all the churches. ( 2 Corinthians 11: 21-30).
Scripture is instructing us to boast about few things. Those are the right things to boast about, things that glorify Christ in us. The things that will reveal God’s greatness rather than human wisdom.
Boast of your weakness.
Paul also has so much to boast about the visions and revelations he received. He has things to boast about his heavenly experiences. But apostle says he doesn’t want to boast about any of these things because there is nothing to be gained by it.
But apostle paul doesn’t want anyone’s attention to go into all this he possessed and give him praise. He doesn’t even want to boast about the sufferings he went through for the gospel.
Paul says toward the end of that he once thought these things were valuable, but now he consider them worthless because of what Christ has done( Philippians 3:7). Paul is counting it all as garbage, so that he could gain Christ and become one with him. Paul says,
“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, he who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying.”
2 Corinthians 11:30-31 ESV
To understand weaknesses I like this beautiful explanation given by Pastor John Piper.
So apostle Paul said he will gladly boast in his weakness that Christ’s power may rest upon him.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV
Boast in the cross of Christ.
“But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.”
Galatians 6:14 ESV
If there is anything for me to boast about , it is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for me. He showed His love for me on that cross, by giving Himself away for me. I’ll boast about His love for me. In my sinful wretched state He found me, and because HE loved me (not that I loved Him!) so so much, He didn’t leave me on that sinful state, but redeemed me with His precious blood. My sins were forgiven and God made me His child.
“He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”
Psalm 40:2-3 ESV
Boast in the Lord!
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
1 Corinthians 1:27-31 ESV
Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.”
Jeremiah 9:23-24 ESV
So today all I have is in Jesus and the only thing I boast about is His love for me on that cross and the strength, grace and forgiveness he is pouring into my life every day. I will boast about my weakness. So His strength will be revealed through me and Christ will be glorified! So when I’m weak I’m strong, not by my strength but by His grace.
Paul says he hasn’t achieved the perfection, but he is pressing on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed him. His focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, apostle Paul is pressing on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us. And he is encouraging the fellow believers that we must hold on to the progress we have already made.
Jesus once told the people the parable of unworthy servant. Jesus gave this valuable lesson towards the end of the parable;
“So you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.’”
Luke 17:10 ESV
Now that he calls us friends instead of servants how much more humble we should be.we didn’t choose Him, but He chose us and He appointed us to go and bear fruit for Him ( John 15:16). So when we are able to do anything for Him, let us give all the glory and honor and praise to Him alone and say with a cheerful heart, ‘we have only done what was our duty!’.
So today because of that cross, together with Apostle Paul I can also say that my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died (Galatians 6:14). Not that I’m perfect in any of this, but every day it is my prayer that, Christ will bring into completion the work He started in me. He will be glorified through me and will help me to understand Him more and more. He will help me to stay humble at the feet of the cross and will help me to find my complete satisfaction and sufficiency in Him alone.
May His desire be our desire and boast all the more about Jesus Christ!!!
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
Philippians 2:5-11 ESV