Boasting; July 19, 2017

1 Kings 20:11 The king of Israel answered, “Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.’ ”

Now that’s a snappy comeback! It was obviously a proverb of the day, but it’s true enough even today. We hear a lot of people boasting about what they are going to do, but that’s nowhere as impressive as someone who calmly recounts what they have done. “Advance boasting” is used as psychological warfare, trying to intimidate opponents. It is often part of what is called “trash talk,” insults and put-downs of opponents. The flip side of that is to bolster the courage of the one speaking. However, talking big often betrays a coward behind the bluff. It is certainly a risky maneuver. For the Christian, we are to hold to what God said. “This is what the Lord says: ‘Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 9:23-24)

One time in my life an empty boast stood me in good stead. I was an 11th grader in Tennessee, having spent most of my life in Japan, and I was fresh meat for bullies. One bully in particular really bothered me, so one day I called him over privately and said, “You know I come from Japan. Well, I know karate, and if I happen to kill you it would be bad for both of us.” He never bothered me again! In fact, I had never studied karate and only knew a few kata (moves) from observation, but I think God gave me wisdom for that occasion. That was certainly an exception to the rule we’re talking about! Far more often, I have gotten myself into trouble by boasting about things I hadn’t done yet, or even things I claimed to have done that weren’t true. I am a perverse bundle of pride and insecurity, and I have demonstrated that more times than I like to think about. I would have done far better to obey God’s words to Jeremiah. Right now we are faced with huge challenges. My focus, both in my words and in my inmost thoughts, must be on my Lord who is more than able to deal with those challenges, because the minute I think or say that I can solve them on my own, I’m in deep trouble. The less I think I can do it, the more I can have assurance that He can and will do it through me.

Father, thank You for this reminder and encouragement. Thank You for the various things You’ve brought me through to this point to teach me to trust You. May I not trust in myself, but be active in my obedience to You, so that Your wisdom may be manifested at every turn to accomplish Your will for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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