Have you heard people boast about their success? “I’m a self-made millionaire”, “God hears my prayers because I give a lot to charity”, “I am a better person than him”, “They are sinners but I memorize the Bible”, “I have higher education and more training than most of them” and the list goes on.
All these vanities amount to nothing because in the Kingdom of God, there is no place to boast about ourselves. People who boast about themselves still believe that their work and performance (they call it personal responsibility) can earn them their righteousness with God. So when God blesses them, they believe that it is because of their own merit; that they did good or prayed enough or sweat enough to have been able to earn God’s blessings.
Boasting about ourselves apart from Jesus Christ is one of the things God hates. When we take pride of ourselves, we make little what Jesus has done on the cross. For the truth is that Salvation comes because of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone. If this is so, what can we boast of then? (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Let’s look at some instances in the Bible where people boasted about themselves and see how Jesus responds to human pride.
1. The Rich Young Man (Mark 10:17-31)
Jesus encountered a young and rich man who boasted about being able to keep all of God’s laws: “Teacher, all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Jesus’ response to the man’s pride: “One thing you lack. Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” This of course the rich man cannot do, so his face fell (his pride was shattered) and he went away sad.
When you boast about yourself, make sure there is no one around greater than you. This rich man made the biggest mistake of his life by claiming to the Son of God that he (the rich man) is perfect and sinless. Obviously, Jesus Christ, out of love had to wake him up to reality.
Christ’s message: EVEN THE BEST OF US CANNOT SAVE THEMSELVES – WE NEED A SAVIOUR
2. Simon Peter (John 13:36-38)
During the last supper, Peter the Rock boasted about his love to Jesus Christ: “I will lay down my life for you.”
Christ’s response to Peter’s boasting: “Will you really lay down your life for me? I tell you the truth, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times!”
You see every time we boast about ourselves, the law of God will keep reminding us to shut our mouths before we embarrass ourselves any further. Can you imagine telling The Saviour of the world that you will die for Him? Didn’t Peter believe what Jesus said that a legion of angels will come to His aid if He commands them to? (Matthew 26:53) I know that Peter loves Jesus very much and that he meant well, but I guess that’s what boasting does. It shows us what fools we are.
Christ’s message: OUR LOVE FOR HIM IS NOTHING COMPARED TO HIS LOVE FOR US
3. Martha (Luke 10:38-42)
In this chapter, Jesus visited the house of Martha and Mary. Interestingly, the two sisters behaved oppositely towards Jesus. Martha, seeing Jesus as a needy man, prepared food and refreshments for him; on the other hand, Mary, seeing Jesus as Saviour and Lord sat at His feet and began listening to Him. Let’s see what Martha said to The Lord: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
Jesus’ response: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Out of Martha’s complaints, Jesus is telling her nicely that He didn’t visit them to be fed. Can you imagine accusing the Lamb of God that He doesn’t care about you? What audacity should one have to tell The Bread of Life, The One who multiplied five loaves to five thousand that you need to feed Him? Again, Martha did mean well to serve Jesus, but because of her self-pride, she messed up big time.
Christ’s message: HE IS OUR PROVISION
Was Jesus being too hard on these people? Why was Jesus destroying their self-esteem? Jesus loves all of them that’s why He was showing them the real way to righteousness. Everyone who boasted always focused on themselves: I, Me, My, Myself. Jesus is simply telling them: DO NOT FOCUS ON YOURSELF. I AM THE SAVIOUR, NOT YOU.
So what are we to do then? I asked The Lord and He showed me 2 verses:
The first is an invitation from Jesus: “COME TO ME AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST.” (Matthew 11:28) If you rely on yourself and your own efforts to earn your righteousness, then the time will come when you will burn yourself out; because no one can accomplish this (Romans 3:23). Jesus is saying that He is the Conqueror, not you. He is the Saviour, not you. He is The Living Bread, not you. Come to Him, rest in His finished work and let him do the saving.
The second verse is from Paul to the Galatians (6:14): “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Good news! We can boast after all! But instead of boasting of ourselves, we boast of our Lord Jesus Christ!
No one lights up a lamp and puts it under a bowl (Matthew 5:14-16)
I will boast not of my riches, but instead, I will boast of Who made me rich!
I will boast not of my success but instead, I will boast of Who made me successful!
I will boast not of my health and happiness but instead, I will boast of Who made me healthy and happy!
I will boast not of my salvation but I shall boast of my Saviour, Jesus Christ!