7 Ways Your Boasting is God’s Surprising Way for God to Get the Glory
- Dr. Josh Moody Senior Pastor of College Church and President of God Centered Life Ministries
- 2019 27 Mar
Since we were first introduced to the Christian faith we have been told not to boast. Not to brag. To be meek, mild, and not push ourselves forward.
At the same time, we look around at the “celebrity” culture of our day (some of it in the church!) and wonder whether the old-fashioned virtues of not “tooting your own horn” should make a comeback.
We’ve had enough of the “humble brag.” Of the “I’m just sharing this article that I wrote and I’m really humbled that it has a zillion reviews.” Or, the look-at-me techniques that we have evolved that make people look at us without it seeming as if that was what we have intended.
But the strange thing is — I have discovered after a year of research — the Bible does not have a monotone view of boasting. Let’s look at what the Bible says about the bad, good, and glory of boasting:
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There’s a biblical view on bad – and good! – boasting.Slide 1 of 9
There is a kind of boasting that is bad.
It’s arrogant. It’s a plague on society. It reeks of selfishness, and frankly, is the aroma of hell. To say it’s bad is to radically undermine just how bad it can be. Don’t boast if by “boasting” you mean going around telling everyone how great you are.
But the strange thing is that there is also a kind of boasting that is good.
Yep, really and truly. Good. Honorable. Righteous. Beautiful. Glorious. And it is used by God for him to get the glory, and for the gospel to advance.
Take just one text, Romans 5, verse 2. It goes like this in most English translations (this is the NIV):
“Through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.”
Now, that word translated (in most, but not all) English translations “rejoice” is the same word translated in chapter 3 verse 27 of the same book of Romans as “boast.”
There, in chapter 3, Paul says that because of the gospel, boasting is excluded.
But NOW, just two chapters later in his argument in Romans, Paul says there is something about which we do boast! More literally it would read like this:
“And we BOAST in the hope of the glory of God.”
Who does the boasting? We do. Who is the “we” in this sentence? Those who have grasped, understood, and personally put their trust in the gospel that Paul has been explaining in the first four chapters of the book of Romans.
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What is the “hope of the glory of God”?Slide 2 of 9
It is the place of “grace” that we have gained “access” to “by faith” in which “we now stand.”
So as a Christian, someone who has put their trust in Christ, we are now in a whole different realm. We are no longer in the realm of condemnation, of self-judgment, and righteous judgment because of our sins and failures and our damnable guilt.
A Christian has access to this place of grace. And they “stand” in that place.
They do not grovel. They do not hide in the corner. Their place in heaven — the hope of the glory of God — is now fixed and certain and so definite that (as Paul will say at the end of chapter 8 of this letter of the Romans) it is as if the Christian is already “glorified”, so secure is their place in heaven.
This is the “realm”, the palatial heavenly zone of grace, in which we “stand” if we are real Christians, if we truly trust in Christ.
So we could summarize this teaching about boasting like this:
“When you grasp what the gospel means, and when you put your personal trust in that gospel, then you have something about which to boast! So, now then, BOAST in the hope of the glory of God! Triumph in that grace! Glory in that grace! With audacity, brave courage, proclaim what God has done for you and the grace in which you stand, to the glory of God!”
Or let us now put it as a clear instruction:
Rejoice with brave courage [that is “boast”!] because through Christ you are now established forever in a realm of grace and glory!
Well then, how do we this? How do we “rejoice with brave courage” — or “boast”? Here are seven ways:
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1. Tell others about Jesus.Slide 3 of 9
When we become more secure, more certain, more confident in who we are Christ, then we will more freely speak of what Jesus has done for us.
The first way that we will boast of Jesus then is to actually speak of Jesus. To tell others about Jesus. To not be silent about Jesus. But to have his name on our lips
The grand tragedy of this generation of Christians is our gospel silence.
Let not the blood of your neighbors be on your hands because you failed to give them an opportunity to hear about Jesus. Speak about Jesus. Tell others about Jesus.
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2. Join a church as a church member.Slide 4 of 9
When we associate publicly with a local gospel church by joining it as a church member, we are boasting publicly and overtly in what Jesus has done for us.
If the grand tragedy of this generation of Christians is our gospel silence, our great ingratitude is the way we marginalize the bride of Christ. How can we say that we love Christ if we do love Christ’s bride? In what sense can we say that we are confident in the gospel if we feel too superior to turn up to church?
In some parts of the world Christians would crawl over broken glass to get to church, and are we too pathetic to get out of bed on time each week to come to church for an hour or so?
No, let us boast in the joy and glory of God by publicly, overtly, frequently, associating ourselves with the local gospel church.
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3. Support global missions.Slide 5 of 9
This gospel that we believe is a global gospel. It is for all nations. To support global missions is not to support ideological colonialism. The church is booming in non-western parts of the world.
We are to be so confident of the power of the gospel, and the truth of the gospel, that we give of our time, our money, our prayers, and our lives, to support global missions.
Boast in the gospel! Boast in the gospel by sending our best and brightest to global missions! Boast in the gospel by supporting indigenous mission work so that there are authentic local expressions of gospel Christianity springing up all around the world!
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4. Give generously to the work of God.Slide 6 of 9
We are not to be just a generation of tippers, not just a generation of tithers, but a generation of radically generous investors.
When we give generously to the work of God we are investing in the kingdom. We are investing in that which has an eternal and guaranteed return. We are investing in the bank of heaven where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.
Boast in the gospel by giving radically and generously to the furtherance of that gospel!
Are we really going to look at God on the last day and tell him that we would rather have bought a third home, or a third car, or a boat, or that game station console, or that new toy, rather than invest in the eternal souls of his people for his great glory?
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5. Talk about your failures and weaknesses.Slide 7 of 9
Paul models this in his writing to the Corinthians. He boasts in his weaknesses. This does not mean boasting in our moral failures or our sinfulness. It means boasting in our normal human frailty, and weaknesses. For where we are weak, there God is strong. We are boasting not in ourselves but in God and the gospel.
And to make sure that message is truly heard and is crystal clear, sometimes we will need to come clean and be honest with our human foolishness. We want people not to think “Wow, isn’t he amazing,” but we want them to think, “I can’t believe God is using someone like him.”
In church history, very frequently it has been the apparently weak people that God has used most mightily. D.L. Moody is perhaps the most famous example in the last century or so: a shoe salesman, practically illiterate in his younger years, the greatest evangelist of his day and astonishing leader of God’s people.
So it is also in the Bible: David was the youngest, Moses perhaps had a stutter, Paul boasted in his sufferings and failures. To boast in God, you must sometimes tell people about your failures.
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6. Write social media posts that elevate the gospel with love and truth.Slide 8 of 9
We live in an age where we all have the potential to gather a huge platform and audience through the tools of social media. Use it wisely to boast in the gospel! What does that mean? It means speaking with truth in love. Both aspects of that balance are important!
We need no more shrill truth-warriors who damage those who agree with them by making them less sensitive to the hurts of others, and who alienate those who cannot stomach their tone of aggression and arrogance.
On the other hand, we also need no more mere love bombers who never say that something is wrong, and always say that everything is to be accepted.
No, to boast in God means to stand up and be counted and speak out against that which is wrong.
It means telling the truth about what is really happening, not to be passive and lay down in front of evil, but to speak the truth that evil might be called to account and the light of Christ might shine in this dark world!
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7. Live lives that would seem crazy and risky because you are actually safe in Christ.Slide 9 of 9
“Safe Christianity” is a contradiction in terms. You are safe in Christ, but because of that you can live a life of risk-taking for Christ. That does not mean leaving aside all the norms of common sense and doing something foolish — the Bible has much to say about sanctified common sense, wisdom, prudence, and avoiding being a fool. But it does mean that comfort and security and safety are not our goals.
Why? Because we already are secure! We already are safe!
And so out of that security in Christ, out of this place of grace in which we stand, we are able to witness for Christ, speak for Christ, and live lives of gospel risk that themselves boast in the hope of the glory of God by the way we live!
Josh Moody is Senior Pastor of College Church in Wheaton, Illinois, and author of the new book, Boasting. He is the founder and President of God Centered Life Ministries and a popular guest on national media programs. Moody is also author of How the Bible Can Change Your Life, How Church Can Change Your Life and Burning Hearts: Preaching to the Affections (all Christian Focus Publications).
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