Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Boasting & Pride

1 Corinthians 1:27-31
But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, 'Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.' 
A couple of things have happened recently, the local high school graduation being the main one, that have made me think a lot about boasting and pride - my own especially.

As I watched the graduates cross the stage Friday night, many of them had cords, stoles, and accolades aplenty. There were sections of the ceremony when groups of high-achievers were recognized with honor and applause. Names were listed for various accomplishments, that all may see and be proud of their graduates.

But should they be proud? What are they proud of? For doing their best in school? For completing 12+ years of education? For behaving well enough to be allowed to "walk" at graduation? For getting by?

And what are they boasting in? Their ability to endure through tortuous classes? Their intelligence in attaining high grades? Their diligence in doing their "best"?

I am guilty of the same arrogance and pride. I was among those whose names were listed as high achievers in my class's graduation program, in a desirable place within the rankings of my year. I had high test scores and GPA, and I loved it. My parents taught me to always do well in school, and I was rewarded greatly for high grades. I was taught in that way to value academics and intellectual ability.

In valuing intellect, I looked up to those who were brilliant, and I looked down upon those who were not. And it's not that I tried my best to be smart; I was one of those annoying kids for whom everything comes pretty easily, with little to no work or studying required.

Still, I "knew better" than to brag about my own accomplishments; however I didn't avoid bragging because I was humble, but because it seemed too attention-seeking, which I am put off by.

Nevertheless, I am zealous for my own glory. When in conversation with others, I often think "Oh! This would be a good time for Brandon to brag on me..." and I delight in praise. I catch myself sometimes, and am ashamed, but too often I'm so engrossed in my own conceit that I don't even notice.

The scripture quoted above speaks of the foolishness of worldly wisdom, how God has chosen the weak to shame the strong. Verse 31 says "Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord." How many people in the world choose to boast in the Lord? How many boast gladly about their weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest on them (2 Corinthians 12:9)? I want to boast in Him, not in myself.

Boasting about weaknesses is folly to the world. "But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise." Boasting about our weaknesses is a testimony to Christ's strength in us.

God uses things like this Scripture to let me know how much work He still needs to do in me. I am far from a finished product. While I may not have as many external sins as some, my heart is a soiled mess. I compare myself to others and delight in evil and gossip; I am often unkind to those I love and desire control over my world; I am disrespectful and selfish; I could go on and on - and maybe I should, if I am to boast in my own weaknesses in order to display Christ's glory more abundantly.

I want to be zealous for His glory, and passionate about making it known that God is the giver of all good things, even especially the things we think we have earned.

Romans 7 :
24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? 25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

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