We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But when they measure themselves by one another, and compare themselves with one another, they do not show good sense. We, however, will not boast beyond limits, but will keep within the field that God has assigned to us, to reach out even as far as you. For we were not overstepping our limits when we reached you; we were the first to come all the way to you with the good news of Christ. We do not boast beyond limits, that is, in the labors of others; but our hope is that, as your faith increases, our sphere of action among you may be greatly enlarged, so that we may proclaim the good news in lands beyond you, without boasting of work already done in someone else’s sphere of action. “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” For it is not those who commend themselves that are approved, but those whom the Lord commends. 2 Corinthians 10:12-18 (NRSV)
It has been said that pride is the mother of all sins- the sin behind the Fall, for instance, was the desire to have the knowledge of good and evil, to be like God.
There is a time and a place to “toot one’s own horn” – it is fine to let others know where one has been and what one has done if that knowledge is helpful or beneficial to others. There is also a place for humility, for understanding that all good gifts come from God. We dare not place our confidence in the gifts rather than in the Giver.
Then there are the braggarts of the world, constantly reminding the world of who they are, where they’ve been, the illustrious contributions they have made to the world, and of how Important they are. The truth is God has made every person with a purpose. We are all a part of the grand scheme of life whether we choose to be or not, and whether or not we want to turn our participation in this life into a grand drama.
Eventually it comes to a point where people brag about accomplishments that they have not achieved or have not achieved alone. This is also harmful because it creates resentment. No one wants someone else to take credit for his or her work.
The purpose of the work we do on this earth is to bring glory to God, and to bring about His kingdom on earth. God’s work is going to happen whether we are directly involved in it or not. God’s role for us in His work will be played out whether the whole world knows it or if it is a quiet secret between us and God.
(Jesus said):“Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven.
“So whenever you give alms, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be praised by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your alms may be done in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:1-4 (NRSV)
God is the ultimate hero in the Biblical narrative, and also in the greater narrative of life. If we trust Him, brag about Him, keep on going on about how amazing His grace and His majesty is, we can’t go wrong in our boasting. As to our good deeds, sometimes it is better to just keep those a secret between us and God. Our capacity to do those good deeds came from Him, anyway.