“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:8-10
We are all boasters. It is in our nature. Some are more blatant, others more discreet. Nevertheless, various situations and circumstances entice us to boast in one way or another. We do not always boast just of ourselves; sometimes we boast of our children, the organization to which we belong, the church we attend, or our country. When it is put that way you may think, “Is there really anything wrong with that? Isn’t there some value or good in boasting …in the right things?
Boasting is defined as “giving oral expression to one’s pride in oneself or in something produced by, belonging to, or related to oneself, as one’s family, connections, race, or accomplishments. Given Webster’s definition I would say very few if any of us escape the accusation of being in one form or another, and at one time or another, a boaster. But then we come once more to the question of whether or not this is ever a praiseworthy or redeeming activity. In Jeremiah the Lord declares: “Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight. (Jeremiah 9:23-24)
In the history of Israel from the Book of Judges, Gideon is called upon by God to free Israel from seven years of severe oppression. Named first by God “a mighty warrior, Gideon is empowered to rally 32,000 fighting men from among his neighboring tribes. God tells him it is too many, even though the oppressing armies number far greater than these 32,000. So Gideon sends all but 10,000 home. Still too many, God says. The 10,000 is culled down to 300. Why? Well, there are some brilliant tactics involved, but victory still would have been an impossible feat apart from God. The predominant reason God gives Gideon is: “In order that Israel may not boast against Me that her own strength has saved her. (Judges 7:2) You most likely know the rest of the story; Gideon’s “band of 300 routes the invading armies, leaving the mop-up to the other 32,000.
The lesson for us is this: we ought never to boast in anything without giving glory to God; first, foremost, and always. Why? Because apart from Him you can do nothing! This is simply the truth of life. And it is a fact not at all dependent on whether you believe it or not. God is involved in every aspect of our life, and it is our nature to constantly forget it in the same way Israel throughout her history in the Old Testament forgot God over and over and over again. When we read her history we think “how could they be so stupid? Yet it is so true of us. It is not only our precious salvation from sin and eternal death which is a gift of God; it is the necessary wisdom, strength, riches, et cetera, to do anything in life. All are His gifts.
So whenever you feel yourself bursting with pride, and compelled to give oral expression to it, think first of Him who made it happen; think of Him who brought your children into the world and calls them; think of Him who caused you to be born in your family and this country; think of Him who keeps you breathing, seeing, doing, and speaking. Why? Simply so that you might do good works to His glory. After all…YOU…are…His…workmanship!
“Heavenly Father, you didn’t make junk! I am your workmanship created to do good works. May I do them, joyfully boasting in You. And whoever or whatever I praise in life, may I first remember and give thought and voice to this: You are in it all.
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