A warrior putting on his sword for battle should not boast like a warrior who has already won. – 1 Kings 20:11
17 So I have reason to be enthusiastic about all Christ Jesus has done through me in my service to God.
18 Yet I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me, bringing the Gentiles to God by my message and by the way I worked among them.
19 They were convinced by the power of miraculous signs and wonders and by the power of God’s Spirit. In this way, I have fully presented the Good News of Christ.
In the game of basketball, the NBA maintains statistics of baskets and assists. Baskets, also called field goals, are scoring events. When the ball goes through the hoop, the player makes a basket and scores two or three points.
Frequently players do not score baskets on their own. Other team players share in the scoring event when they assist. They pass the ball to the player that actually makes the basket. The NBA defines an assist in simple terms as a pass that leads directly to a basket.
In the history of the game only seven players scored over 30,000 points: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 38,387, Karl Malone 36,928, Kobe Bryant 33,643, LeBron James 32,543, Michael Jordan 32,292, Dirk Nowitzki 31,560, Wilt Chamberlain 31,419. Only one player had over 15,000 assists, John Stockton, 15,806.
I suppose the rest of the NBA players were real slackers, not! Some of us are height challenged and never scored any baskets.
I doubt that the Father is much interested in NBA statistics. But He is very attentive to how His children work in spreading His message and expanding His kingdom.
Who gets the credit?
Paul accomplished more than anyone else in his time in his service to the Father. He traveled, taught, and preached the gospel message to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles. Vast numbers of Gentiles accepted the Lord Jesus Christ through Paul’s work. Humanly speaking, Paul had grounds to boast. Yet he knew that it was the Father working through him who responsible. Paul gave all of the credit to the Father, to whom it really belonged. His boasting is all about the Father, and what the Father had accomplished.
I am left wondering, who scored and who assisted?
REFLECT & PRAY
Some of the Father’s truths are delightful morsels and melt in your mouth. But other truths are hard and hit like a ton of bricks. Recognizing your boasting abuse is a brick.
Father I long to be nothing more than Your instrument used to do Your will.
Jeremiah warns about boasting prematurely. It is quite normal for combatants to psych themselves up whether they on the playing field or on the battlefield. Today we call it trash talking. A soldier preparing to do battle may boast of his bravery. But that person’s bravery cannot be compared to the soldier who fought in battle and lived to tell about it. If Jeremiah were living today, he might say, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”
Paul was given a task and he successfully carried it out. Paul had won the right to boast. He could proclaim, “I did it, mission accomplished.” But he did not do so. What he did do is a lesson for us all.
There is a very strange collaboration/cooperation that goes on between the Father and His servants. The children of the King, are the Father’s hands and feet. He uses our minds, our personalities, our experiences, and ultimately our mouths to convey His message to the world. But the Father Himself provides the wisdom and power that energizes us to fulfill the assigned task.
If the Father were to peel back the layers of your heart searching for boasting abuse, what would be revealed? In Romans 15, the Father does just that to Paul. He reveals Paul’s character and integrity for everyone to see.
Paul recognized that he was nothing more than an instrument in the Father’s hands. He did not brag or boast or take pride in what he had accomplished. Rather, he proclaimed for all to hear how the Father had used him to accomplish His purpose.
When we start looking at ourselves and recalling all the great things that we have done, we cross a line. Rather, we are to think of what the Father has accomplished in and through us. When we do so, we follow Paul and get it right.
What is boasting? The Greek word, which is translated, boast is kauchaomai. The term expresses an unusually high degree of confidence in someone or something as being exceptionally noteworthy. It involves taking pride in something, bragging. Boasting in and of itself is neutral. Boasting is used in both a good sense and in a bad sense. It all depends upon who is doing the boasting and what is being boasted about.
In a bad sense, it refers to taking pride in oneself, becoming a braggart. It is all about me! Bad boasting is self-centered. In a good sense, boasting is all about acknowledging the Father’s worth and expressing confidence in Him. It is all about Him! Bad boasting is often nothing more than self-aggrandizement, self-marketing. Paul knows that such self-flattery is dangerous. Good boasting is Father-centered.
1 Corinthians 10:12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
How then should we boast?
Learn from Paul. He tempered his boasting. The Father did the work, Paul was merely His agent, His mouthpiece, hands and feet. The power for accomplishing a task begins and ends with the Father, along with the results.
Romans 15:18 I dare not boast about anything except what Christ has done through me.
Consider the Little Leaguer who put all his sixty pounds into a ferocious swing and barely connected. The ball scraped by the bottom of the bat, jiggled straight back to the pitcher, who groped and fumbled it. There was still plenty of time to throw out the batter at first, but the pitcher’s throw soared high over the first baseman’s head. The slugger flew on toward second base. The ball was retrieved. The next throw sailed wildly into left field. The hitter swaggered into third, puffing along with a man-sized grin, then crossed home plate. “Oh, boy,” he said, “that’s the first home run I ever hit in my whole life!” (Hughes)
1 Corinthians 1:31 “If you want to boast, boast only about the LORD.”
Regrettably, sin is natural to the fallen human race. But growing accustomed to it, tolerating it, overlooking it, minimizing it, is far worse. The Corinthians boasted about their tolerance.
1 Corinthians 5:6 Your boasting about this is terrible.
The Corinthians had grievous sin in their midst. But they did not call out sin as sin. The Corinthians compensated instead. Rather than condemning it, they found excuses for it. Sin needs to be dealt with overtly. Sin needs to be called out for what it is and dealt with.