The oscars took place last night. In a year or two very few people will remember who won what. Except the winners, and those they love. Parents of Oscar recipients will be bragging about their children’s success for many a long year. And why not?  We’d all do the same. Well, I would.

Bragging has its bad side and its good side. Someone once said we should gossip the gospel. I think we should also ‘brag’ the gospel. How do we do that? There are potential pitfalls. We are not to boast about ourselves, “so that no one may boast before him.” (1 Corinthians 1:29 NIV11-GK). Paul also warns us, “So then, no more boasting about human leaders!” (1 Corinthians 3:21 NIV11-GK).

If we are going to boast, in what should we boast and how should we boast? Three tips follow:

  1. Love Prevents Selfish Boasting. When we love someone we are more interested in them than anything. More than our rumbling stomach, the person over their shoulder, the thing that happened to us last night. “If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3 NIV11-GK). You might be the most ‘committed’ Christian since Polycarp (look him up!), but if you’re not a person of love you are nothing like Christ. Paul goes on to say, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.” (1 Corinthians 13:4 NIV11-GK). No, love does not boast, and neither should we – about ourselves. However, there is a good kind of boasting ….
  2. Weakness is Worth Boasting About. What does Paul mean when he says, “If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.” (2 Corinthians 11:30 NIV11-GK)? Is he on some exaggerated guilt-trip here?  I think not. It seems to me that he is looking to expose the things in his life that should make him unattractive and unusable to God. Yet, God still loves him and uses him. These weaknesses might have included his anti-Christian past, his thorn in the flesh, or his lack of eloquence. Whatever they were he was happy to expose them, promote them and talk about them because then it was clear that God was the one who accepted him and empowered him, “I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV11-GK).  Not only that, but there is a thing worth boasting about …..
  3. The Cross is Worth Boasting About. “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” (Galatians 6:14 NIV11-GK). Boasting is OK when it is boasting about someone impressive – and who is more impressive than Jesus Christ, and what is more impressive than his sacrifice on the cross? Do we talk about the cross enough? I know people might look at you sideways when you bring it up, but how else do we demonstrate how important it is to us? “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:18 NIV11-GK)
Three tips on boasting that mean God gets the honour He deserves. Which one do you need to work on? I’m off to work on a weakness – then I can boast in it!
Malcolm Cox