How many times have you watched a game you cared about, such as football, and got all excited when they won? It's a thrill, isn't it? It gets your blood racing...you probably even jump up and down or pump your fist in the excitement. You might even yell, scream, or hoot and holler.
It can be very emotional when your team wins. Do you ever get a sense of pride? Although you contributed absolutely NOTHING to the success, do you feel as though you helped will your team to victory?
After the game, what do you do? Do you somehow suddenly calm down from the euphoria and move on as if it was no big deal? Or do you take your pride to the next level? You know what I mean. I'm talking about rubbing it into your friends that rooted for the "other" team...the losing team.
This kind kind of behavior...boasting... is normal though. It's part of the human condition. Sure, we try to tone it down. We even suppress our emotions at times to show sportsmanship. But in all actuality, we get very excited and we allow ourselves to show it. Often times we end up making fools of ourselves by how extreme we get in the celebration.
Now let's apply this behavior to another area in our lives. How attractive are our attitudes when we begin boasting about being Christians? Don't get me wrong, the fact that God has saved us through His Son Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross ought to raise us to the level of excitement that surpasses any earthly event. To hoot and holler because of Christ? Definitely! Psalm 9:2 "I will be glad and rejoice in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High."
The problem is is when worship and praise for what God has done turns into something else. As a Christian, you know you're on the winning team. You know that Christ has the victory!
1 Corinthians 15:51-57
51Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. 53For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality. 54When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
55"Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?" 56The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
But we need to be careful. Sometimes I think we can become full of pride because of all that God has done for us. Did we deserve His salvation? Did we somehow turn God's head for Him to say, "Wow, look at [insert your name here]." It would be wrong to think that we did anything to deserve God's favor. The fact that God shows mercy on us means nothing about anything we have said or done. Romans 3:9-18 makes that clear.
9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. 10As it is written:
"There is no one righteous, not even one;
11there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God.
12All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good,
not even one."
13"Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit."
"The poison of vipers is on their lips."
14"Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness."
15"Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16ruin and misery mark their ways,
17and the way of peace they do not know."
18"There is no fear of God before their eyes."
It's easy to find ourselves full of pride though, isn't it? Maybe since becoming a believer you found yourself looking at others differently. You wondered why some people don't get it. Why are they still blinded to the truth? Why don't they understand right from wrong? Why is it they're still caught up in addiction? Can't they see that fornication is just plain wrong? What's wrong with these people who are advocating same-sex marriage? .....If we're not careful, we can be guilty of the very thing that Paul was talking about in Romans.
27Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.
The point I believe Paul is making here is not that we should tolerate sin. Sin still needs to be exposed and confronted. But it's our attitude. Do we sometimes think that because we're saved by the grace of God that we're better than the sinner next to us? Whether we outright boast about our position in Christ or whether we secretly boast within ourselves because God saved us, we can be guilty of this sin. Psalm 12:3 says, "May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue." Paul says there is no boasting when it comes to our salvation because it had nothing to do with us "observing the law." Rather it was by faith, and even God gave us the measure of faith to believe to begin with!
There are other areas of concern, to be sure. If you're a pastor, worship leader, evangelist, youth leader, or any number of prominent positions, boasting can become an issue for you as well. The heart of God has never been about position, status, or glory for ourselves. Rather, God has made sure that we would have no reason to boast at all. 1 Corinthians 1:28-30 tells us that, "He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption." And again in Ephesians 2:8-10, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Can it be any clearer? Boasting should not have any part of the Christian life. Not for ourselves anyway. If you want to boast? Boast in Jesus! He is the only one worthy of our boasting!
Psalm 34:2 "2My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice."
Psalm 44:8 "8In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise your name forever. Selah"
2 Corinthians 10:17 "17But, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord."
Galatians 6:14 "14May 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."