It’s OK for Christians to Boast!

Posted on April 15, 2019

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By David Ettinger

boast

Really?
I trust you’re reading this because the title intrigued you. As you of course know, 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. 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! In fact, in coming to our key text, Jeremiah 9:24, we must first acknowledge that the previous verse is yet another warning against boasting. Verse 23 says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches.”

jeremiah

God never issues a “let 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 tells the Israelites to stop boasting of their wisdom, strength, and riches, this is exactly what they are doing.

In sharp contrast, the Lord, 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 actually boasting, but “praising” and “glorying in” God. I like this!

hand reach out

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!”

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 in Him.

But your boasting – “praise” and “glorying in” – doesn’t end here. 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. Instead, you may 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 the folly of such a statement.

Rather, when “boasting,” don’t forget the Hebrew word “halal.” To “boast” in the Lord is to “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!”