I think often Christians like to throw around the phrase, “Boast only in the Lord.” The message of this is pretty clear: be humble.
But as I was thinking about this the other day, I realized I did not really know what “boasting in the Lord” actually means and looks like.
As I thought about this idea more, an image came to my head. I think boasting in the Lord is similar to a little boy who loves and boasts in his dad. He wants all his friends to see his dad and how awesome he is. Whenever people compliment him about something, he genuinely responds, “I learned that from my dad.”
In the same way, boasting in God is showing God off to others because He is truly good, and perfect, and worthy of praise. Anything good that I do is a result of God, so the praise should not go to me, but to God. When God works in my life, in sanctifying me or using me to do His will, He is displaying how holy, loving, perfect, just, and sovereign He is and how sinful and hopeless I am without Him.
If I know that none of what I do can come from myself, how could I do anything but praise God and give Him glory?
When we take pride in ourselves, it reveals a wrongful heart that thinks that I did all the work, or at least most of the work, to get to where I am. We forget that everything we have is a gift from God and whatever successes we have are only a result of God’s grace. How can we, imperfect and sinful creatures, boast and try to take glory away from a holy and almighty God?
17 But, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.
2 Corinthians 10:17-18
When I read this, I was surprised and encouraged to read verse 18. When we boast in God, when we humble ourselves, God will commend us. Instead of storing for ourselves pride or human attention on earth, we are storing for ourselves eternal treasures in heaven that are worth much more than our pride.
Ultimately, the greatest example of this is Jesus Christ.
5Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
10so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.