“‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.’ For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.”
~II Corinthians 10:17-18
Paul wraps up his defense of the ministry God has given him with a quote from Jeremiah 9 and a final truth that is so important for all those laboring for the kingdom to remember. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you’ve accomplished, who you’ve met, where you’ve been, or how far-reaching your ministry is, all that matters is that you are approved by the Master.
Last time, we talked about being bold in our calling and knowing when to stand tall and boast in the area of ministry God has given us. However, in that boasting, we must always remember to boast only in the Lord. For it is not by our might, ingenuity, great planning, or perfect performance that people are touched by the gospel, but by God’s Spirit moving and working through us—imperfect vessels. Even though God may use us in great ways, we must stay humble and remember who is really doing the work, so that when we boast, we will boast in the Lord—not in ourselves, our acts of might or fame, but in God alone.
Why is it so important that we boast only in the Lord and give Him all the glory for what we’ve done?
There are several answers to that question, but the reason Paul gives in II Corinthians is that the one who commends himself will not be approved, but only the one the Lord commends. That’s a compelling reason. We all want to be approved by God. Throughout life, our goal is to hear at the end the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!” But if we commend ourselves, boast in our own strength, and pat ourselves on the back, we are no longer approved. For the one who is approved is the man or woman the Lord commends.
This reminds me of a precept found in Proverbs 27:2:
“Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”
God lifts up the humble and notices all that is done in secret and not for the attention of man. So as we go about the Lord’s work, let us remember not to commend ourselves or boast in our own accomplishments, but to let God do the commending and let Him be the one we boast in. For if we remember who is really doing all the work—and it’s not us!—then we will be humble servants God can use, who are approved and ready for every good work.
So who are you commended by? Yourself and the world? Or are you commended by the Lord?
“Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.’”
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