“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness.”
~2 Corinthians 11:30 (NIV).
We never enjoyed encountering the school bully—even worse now when we’re reminded of the oppressive nature manifest through the terrorist-inspired acts of a recalcitrant force known in common life... for instance, those we see on television, if not face-to-face, perhaps out of the roads.
Life can be a very ‘in your face’ thing at times.
Paul was perhaps so equally affronted by the divisive section of the Corinthian church—those known quietly for their back-biting and ridicule. Of course, these Corinthians are found boasting about their superiority (over Paul)—a boast the truly superior never make.
A Boast Defeating the Rest of the Boasts
Paul is found to be really saying, “I have the trump; a truly superior boast.” He has the only boast worthy of boasting about. Paul’s boasts propel the listener to the God who saves—his boasts glorify not Paul himself, but God.
The Reality of a Boast Without God
We’re all found boasting. Even if we don’t give voice to the boast, due perhaps to our keenly-sought and tuned sense of self-control, we still boast from within.
And it’s as simple as this, really.
When we’re found boasting unlike Paul—i.e. of our strength, feats, know-how, adequacy, faith et cetera—we’re ironically showing everyone our weakness. The fact is we truly desire affirmation, for we’ve not allowed God to affirm us as God is so apt at doing when we ask. We, in these moments, have failed to live our faith.
The living Lord is the only One who can quell this quibbling sense of dis-ease in us that proffers boasting as a way of feeling better about ourselves i.e. the focus is on what we can do or have done rather than who we are. The former (what we can do or have done) is shifting sand, whilst the latter (who we are) is granite rock. Which shall we choose to stand on?
The Test of a Boast
There are really very, very few boasts that make it on the virtuous realm. These are entirely rare in their actuality because it is so opposite our nature to sow into the power of the right boast.
The right boast propels us to hold God high in—and because of—our wrongs, our failings, our weaknesses and our inadequacies. Who’s really comfortable with that?
The humble recognition that truly glorifies God—in the midst of the tests of life—is a ‘boast’ worthy of God, to the wonder of the onlooking world paralysed by what just happened.
It’s done without thought; without plan for some off-handed compliment—which is a false humility, and the worst pride, for it seeks to dupe via virtuous pretence.
The right boast rejects one hundred percent any paling sense of self credit.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.