“This is what the LORD says: ‘Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 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,’ declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24
I once heard the following story:
A boy got his first job. As he was boasting about the amount of work he did, he said, "I get up at 5 a.m. and have my breakfast." He was asked, "Does anyone else get up too?" He replied, "Oh yes, my mother gets up and fixes my breakfast and then fixes my dad’s breakfast." "And what about your dinner?" The boy said, "Oh, my mother fixes that too." "Does your mother have the afternoon to herself?" The boy replied, "No, mama cleans the house, looks after the other children, and then gets supper for me and my dad when we come home. Then we watch TV before we go to bed." "What about your mother? What does she do before bed?" The boy replied, "Mama washes some clothes and irons the rest of the evening." "Do you get paid?" "Of course, Dad and I get paid." "And what about your mother, does she get paid too?" The boy replied, "DOES MOTHER GET PAID?! MOTHER DON’T GET PAID. SHE DON’T DO NO WORK!"
Have you ever met a bragger? All boasting is rooted in the sin of pride. But did you know that it is actually acceptable to brag? Bragging, or boasting as the Scripture calls it, isn’t the problem…it is who you are boasting about that will get you in trouble. The boy in the story above was so proud of himself that he was oblivious to his mother’s tireless work on his behalf. Without her, he would have been hungry and naked. His focus was on himself; therefore his boasting was in himself.
God’s warning in Jeremiah 9:23-24 is not to abstain from boasting, but rather to boast in the right thing. You will notice that God singles out the wise, the strong, and the rich in this passage. He doesn’t say such people are fools. He doesn’t say they aren’t wise, strong, or rich, does He? Instead, He redirects the focus from self to the One who is the Giver of anything we might have to boast about. All wisdom, strength, and riches come from Him; therefore He deserves the honor.
We should boast instead, God says, that we know Him. He encourages us to boast in His character, to tell of His goodness and mercy. So brag away…just be careful whom you brag about.
Father, You alone are worthy of glory, honor, and praise. If I have anything to boast about, it is only that which You have done in, for, and through me. Help me today to exalt You and only You, so that others might be drawn nearer to Your heart. In Jesus’ name, amen.