David Ettinger

It's Ok For Christians To Boast

Discussion in 'Blogs & Columns' started by David Ettinger, May 13, 2017.

  1. David Ettinger

    Dec 4, 2015
    Likes Received:
    I trust you’re reading this because the title intrigued you. If you’re on the ball, you said to yourself, “Is he sure about that? Is he really going to try to convince me that boasting is proper Christian behavior?”

    If you thought this, you are to be commended. After all, the Bible is rife with verses regarding the humility that should characterize Christian living. Some examples:
    • “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love” (Ephesians 4:2).
    • “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10).
    • “Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you” (Romans 12:3).
    There’s certainly nothing contained within those verses that encourages boasting. After all, these verses speak of humility and soberness, two ingredients which can in no way be used to fuel boasting.

    And yet, the Bible says it’s all right to boast. Is there a contradiction here? Let’s find out.

    Proper Boasting
    True indeed, there is no place for Christians to boast about themselves – and I never said there was! In fact, in coming to our key text, Jeremiah 9:24, I must first acknowledge that the previous verse is yet another warning against boasting. The prophet declares in verse 23: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches.”

    God never issues a “do not” command unless this is precisely what people are doing. For instance, whenever God or an angel says “do not be afraid” (Luke 1:13; 30: 2:10), it is because people are afraid. Likewise, when God, through Jeremiah, tells the Israelites to stop boasting of their wisdom, strength, and riches, this is exactly what they are doing.

    In sharp contrast, the Lord, as if comprehending the human desire to boast, gives us a far better way to do so: Jeremiah writes in verse 24, “but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight.”

    This makes more sense, doesn’t it? Especially when you consider that the Hebrew word for “boast” is halal, which also means “to praise” or “to glory in.”

    Far Deeper Than You Think
    You may be thinking, This makes sense. In the same way egotists talk about themselves, I am to talk about the Lord. And when I do so, I am not only boasting, but “praising” and “glorying in” God at the same time. I like this!

    But it goes deeper than this. Note the first thing you are to boast about: “…that [you] have the understanding to know” God. Do you realize what is being said here? This is almost an Old Testament nod to the New Testament teaching on “election.” Ephesians 1:4 says: “For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” In other words, you being a Christian is no accident; God specifically said, “You [insert your name here]; I specifically chose you to be Mine; to be My blood-purchased child through the shed blood of my Son.” Likewise, the rationale behind Jeremiah’s declaration that you “have the understanding to know” God is that God gave you this understanding. You did not cultivate in within yourself; your human intellect did not come to a logical acceptance of God and Christ. Rather, God endowed you with this understanding. This is a reason indeed to boast.

    But your boasting – “praise” and “glorying in” – doesn’t end here; not by a long shot. You are to boast about the Lord’s abundance of “kindness,” “justice,” and “righteousness” and that He is at all times displaying and exercising these attributes throughout His creation. In fact, the Lord even admits to taking great “delight” in these specific attributes of His. What better reason for you to boast about them to others, especially unbelievers?

    Boast Proudly
    So, just to make sure I have covered my biblical tracks … Christians are to never to be proud; you should never boast about your accomplishments, skills, or talents. It’s acceptable to acknowledge that you are gifted in certain ways, but that all such gifts were granted to you by God. However, this does not mean that you are not to be proud. Pride is fine if it is directed in one direction, and one only: the Lord.

    But what about the verse excerpt mentioned earlier instructing you to boast that you “have the understanding to know” God? It almost sounds as if the Lord is giving you permission to say to an unbeliever: “Hey you, guess what? God chose me to know Him and not you.” Not on your life! No need to explain; I assume you can see everything wrong with such a statement.

    Rather, when “boasting,” don’t forget the Hebrew word “halal.” To “boast” in the Lord is “praise” and “glory in” Him. And this is the key. So long as the Lord is the sole object of your boasting, then boast up a storm if you are so inclined.

    And from now on, if anyone ever tells you differently, feel free to reply, “It’s OK For Christians to boast!”
    Read more by David Ettinger: https://ettingerwriting.wordpress.com/