Six Great Bible Counsels Against Boasting

Updated on July 25, 2019
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Ms. Dora, a former teacher and Christian counselor, is an avid Bible student and loves to compile user-friendly Bible quotes by topic.

There is a thin line between pride and boasting or bragging. Secure in our sense of self-worth and self-respect, we take healthy pride in declaring our achievements. If our pride becomes excessive and we present our achievements as evidence that we are more worthy than others, we become arrogant and boastful. The key is to balance our sense of self-importance with gratitude for divine and human support.

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People also boast about their affiliations, crimes, good deeds, possibilities, self-indulgences, wisdom, power and wealth. These are the areas in which the following six Bible verses (New Living Translation) counsel us not to boast.

Affiliations

(1) Don’t boast about following a particular human leader. - 1 Corinthians 3:21

Haven’t we suffered enough discontent from the moral fall of church leaders, celebrities, and other admired individuals whom we followed on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, denominational and civic platforms? We thought that our status received a boost from their status when we affiliated and interacted with them. Now we know that we set ourselves up for disappointment when we follow and boast about other human beings.

In the Church at Corinth, members boasted about being followers of Paul, followers of Apollos, followers of whomever discipled them into the church. Paul discouraged the party spirit. In our modern society, the number of preachers increases daily and some of them encourage this kind of groupie behavior by presenting their achievements and their own human affiliations to attract people to their congregations. We have been warned.

This is not an attempt to discourage church membership or loyalty to church leaders, but to reinforce Paul’s counsel to believers then and now: “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31).

Crimes

(2) Why do you boast about your crimes, great warrior? Don’t you realize God’s justice continues forever? - Psalm 52:1

In the opinion of some godly persons, killing a priest is the ultimate crime. But Doeg, the Edomite, killed 85 of them (1 Samuel 22: 11-23) as a presumed loyalty to King Saul. David begins Psalm 52 with reference to that incident and the Benson Commentary explains:

"It seems probable that Doeg, after he had massacred the priests, boasted of his loyalty to Saul . . . and that he had been liberally rewarded by Saul on account of it."

So David compared the effects of Doeg’s crime and God’s justice. He wanted all criminals to know that boasting is inappropriate when they have to encounter justice. Even after the victims have suffered and died, justice will render to the criminals what they deserve. What a sobering thought when they are tempted to boast!

Possibilities

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(3) A warrior putting on his sword for battle should not boast like a warrior who has already won. - 1 Kings 20:11)

This verse is King Ahab’s response to the King of Damascus who threatened to defeat him in battle. His words “have a dash of contempt and sarcasm, all the more galling because of their unanswerable common-sense. ‘The time to crow and clap your wings is after you have fought’.” (MacLaren’s Expositions). The bully lost the battle.

This is great lesson for both young and old. “If you can imagine it, you can achieve it, if you can dream it, you can become it,” we have been told by William Arthur Ward, but it would be foolish to boast about something that is not yet real. In each stage of our lives, we dream about many possibilities, but let us not be foolish enough to boast about the end of which we know nothing.

Good Deeds

(4) If his [Abraham’s] good deeds had made him acceptable to God, he would have had something to boast about. But that was not God’s way. - Roman 4: 2

Paul made it clear that God honored Father Abraham, not for his good deeds but for his faithfulness (verse 3). It seems that it not always appropriate to list our good deeds. Like God, some people of integrity are more concerned with inner qualities than with accomplishments.

On the resumé, our qualifications matter. On introductions, our social profile may make a difference. If asked, the questioner may have the right to know, giving us the right to tell. We can learn to display a healthy self-esteem without boasting. Still some may find it acceptable to adopt Henry David Thoreau’s rational:

"If I seem to boast more than is becoming, my excuse is that I brag for humanity rather than for myself."

Self-Indulgence

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(5) What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine and boast about all the alcohol they can hold. - Isaiah 5: 22

This verse brings back memories of a fellow worker who drank continually but always carried out his duties effectively. Although the smell of alcohol was on his breath, the result of his work was admirable. He got away with his self-indulgence as did the drinkers in our verse, who went to their workplace intoxicated and carried out their corrupt practices (Isaiah 5: 23, 24).

Such people find it easier to surrender to self-gratification than to self-discipline. They call themselves heroes and boast about their ability to be strong in their wrong, but they usually self-destruct. This is true in all manner of irresponsible living. The only way out is repentance, initiated by humility, which is at the opposite end of boasting.

Wisdom, Power, Riches

(6) Don’t let the wise boast in their wisdom, or the powerful boast in their power, or the rich boast in their riches. - Jeremiah 9:23

These three desirables are extremely valuable and are usually attained through diligence and hard work. They are not functional if we hide them. We practice wisdom in our interaction with others. We wield power in our positions of authority. We display our riches in the quality of our possessions. King Solomon, believed to have authored Ecclesiastes, admits in Chapter 2 and verse 24, "I realized that these pleasures (he had all three) are from the hand of God."

So there is no good reason to boast about them because:

  • They are gifts. "And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?" (1 Corinthians 4:7)
  • We are only stewards. We will leave them all behind. "Their wealth will not follow them into the grave. . . People who boast of their wealth don’t understand; they will die, just like animals. (Psalm 49: 17, 20)

So what's left to boast about? God and His innumerable blessings which are His own creation.

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Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Dora Weithers

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      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thank, RTalloni, for your invaluable input. Your commentary is sound and insightful.

      • profile image

        RTalloni 

        4 months ago

        Thanks for the good reminders in this post. Because of the propensity of the human heart to want a human leader and then to boast about him/her 1 Cor. 1 is especially important for both church leaders and congregations to always keep in mind.

        Your notes on not boasting about crimes is an attention getter. I had not thought about it in quite that light and appreciate encouragement to take a closer look at the concept. Presumption always leads to trouble for it is a consequence of self-dependence. So appreciate your pointing out a fallacy of W. A. Ward's quote.

        Your third section (a good one to remember when threatened) reminds of how many of our old-sayings are rooted in Scriptural principles. "Don't count your chickens before they are hatched", for instance.

        How deceiving good deeds can be! If not done "as unto the Lord" we fall into any number of false notions about them. If good deeds could save people Jesus would not have had to face the cross. If good deeds take people's focus off Him and put it on us we utterly fail Him. If any selfishness is part of our motivation they only serve to put us in a place of needing to repent. (How I praise Him for the gift of repentance!)

        Oh how sobering is Isaiah 5! Passages such as this are dismissed, called fairytales, but the people who do so do not know they are dealing with God. They are unwilling to search out the meaning of such passages, letting Him prove Himself to them. They sadly go their own way unwilling to believe that He says so far and no further. Their own blindness keeps them from connecting the dots between societal ills and God's warnings.

        And the lessons from Jeremiah 9 really are breathtaking when considering the topic of boasting. People complain that "the Lord who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth" means what He says. He again warns people in the grip of the pride of life about continuing to follow our own hearts.

        In general we see throughout history that God's Word has guided the behaviors of many people whether or not they trusted Him in Jesus according to His Word because His truths are right and good for us and for others. Even atheistic societies will adhere to some of His truths for their own safety/good.

        God's principles for living are sound, given to keep us safe, as we see in Psalm 119 and Proverbs, as well as throughout His Word. Sadly, though, we are rebels to His love. We redefine it, and use His Word for our own purposes to try to prove our own points. Without His help we take it out of context and refuse to prayerfully search the entire counsel of His Word.

        If we open our heart and mind to His wisdom we will indeed realize our need to journey through this world with a humble spirit. What is there to boast in except in the Christ? Everything without Him is mere fodder for fire!

        Also, you've surely reminded me of the contrasts between what people say in posts and posters on social media and what God says. In the last days people will be boasters...2 Timothy 3...blind to the consequences of sin, calling evil good and good evil. Entrenched in their thinking is doing it "my way", not knowing their enemy or the God that calls them to freedom in the Lord Jesus.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Denise, I love your honesty. Thanks for sharing that "the reward is better" when people give the praise unprompted. I appreciate your input.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile image

        Denise McGill 

        4 months ago from Fresno CA

        I would love to say I don't boast at all but I don't think I can honestly say that, however, I feel that if I keep my peace and others notice my artwork, the reward is better. I always feel better about the praise than when I pointed out how well I had done. Thanks for the reminders. Good Scripture reference.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Pastor Bill, I appreciate your encouragement. It's difficult finding new ways to write about old issues, but that forces me to think. So it seems that writing and reading are good mental exercises for us with the gray hairs.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Linda, I appreciate your input. I hope that people can differentiate when we're declaring our accomplishments to say thanks, and when we're just tooting our horn. I agree that the latter is inappropriate.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Flourish, I once had a male friend who boasted frequently. He missed out on plenty I wanted to tell him, because as soon as I mentioned something (say, a good presentation by someone) he would butt in to boast about a presentation he did and I wouldn't get to finish my story. I learned to stop talking and listen. I think that on occasions, he noticed that I lost interest and he ended the conversation.

        Like you suggested, not feeding into his boast helped to shut him down. I guess there will always be people like that. Thank God for the many who are not.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Antonio. I agree that it is easy to slip into boasting without much effort. We've got to be mindful.

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 

        4 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        You always pick such interesting topics, Dora, and by doing so, you make us think. Thank you for all you do here on HP and elsewhere!

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        4 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Expressing gratitude to those who have helped us succeed is important, but boasting about our success is inappropriate behaviour. Thanks for the reminder, Dora.

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        4 months ago

        Apologies dora, need to stop apologizing but this is such a great subject that i could not resist mentioning ( DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 8 )

        Basically the whole chapter is about NOT boasting in our own achievements.

        It really needs to be read a few times before understanding the reality of God being the real provider of everything we have. Understanding that makes us less boastful, and more thankful as a people.

        Look out for verses. 2, 3, 11, ( 14 ) ( 17 & 18 )

        Absolutely phenomenal.

        Thank's for this great REMINDER dora :)

        I have also noticed, It don't matter who we are, we can all "slowly" fall into the trap of boasting without even being aware, and apart from deuteronomy, there's lot's of other reasons why boasting is not good. That's what reminders are for.

        Cool subject dora.

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        4 months ago

        Sorry, it was ( James 5:1-6 ) The warning.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 

        4 months ago from USA

        I once had a co-worker who was never bashful about saying precisely what she was good at, what highly placed people she knew, what people supposedly complimented her on, etc. She had an insatiable hunger to be well-regarded in all areas and wanted to take short cuts rather than work hard to earn real respect.

        At first, I was taken aback at her habit of boasting, but then I tried to simply not feed into it. I'd say something noncommital to the effect of, "That must make you feel great about yourself" before quickly changing the subject. If you have faced a similar acquaintance who frequently boasted, how did you handle them?

      • profile image

        Antonio50S 

        4 months ago

        Totally agree with this. Everything we have and own, even the thing we take for granted are all given us, these verses are good reminders about not boasting.

        ( Jeremiah 9:24 & 1 Cor 1:31 ) As you mentioned.

        ( Psalms 146:3 ) "Do not put your trust in princes, in MORTAL men, who CANNOT save" & Vs4

        These 2 are good as well.

        ( James 4:13-16 ) We don't even know what will happen tomorow. We're just a "mist" that appears for a while them "vanishes" but if it is the Lord's will, we can live and "do this or that" All such boasting is evil.

        ( James 5:16 ) Is warning to rich oppressors boasting in their own abilities and their "final outcome" ( Now listen you rich people )

        All these verses you mentioned are really good, great reminders and bet a lot of folks will be surprised what's written in bible about these things. Nobody can say the bible is outdated while talking about relevant issues.

        Really good dora.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Marlene. You were blessed with parents who knew the value of humility. We need more like them.

      • MarleneB profile image

        Marlene Bertrand 

        4 months ago from USA

        Growing up, my parents were big on practicing being humble. They would say, knowing that you have accomplished something and knowing that God sees it is good enough. It is OK to say thank you when someone gives you a compliment, but don't go on to say, "I know!" That's boasting! I enjoyed reading your article which shares valuable teachings about boasting.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Rev. You article also taught something I never knew before. es, it's good to exchange our views and learn from one another.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Eric, being proud of your family is not necessarily boasting. The young ones need to hear you cheering them on. Let them hear you say "I'm proud of you." Wishing some other kids I know were in your family!

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Bill, thank God for fathers with practical wisdom. Glad you had one of those.

      • revmjm profile image

        Margaret Minnicks 

        4 months ago from Richmond, VA

        Ms. Dora, I enjoyed reading the "Six Great Bible Counsels Against Boasting." You provided scriptures which you usually do. My article was the "Difference Between Boasting and Bragging" where I gave equal space to both actions.

        It is always good to read how different writers approach some of the same subjects.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        4 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Dora this is wonderful. I boast too much about my family but only to those who know me well. A peaceful place is not a vainglorious place. I think that within our small family and within our home we boast. We boast of each other. A promotion the other day had us boasting and puffing out our chest to each other. Out to dinner to congratulate my wife more.

        Perhaps we boast outside in our proclamations of Jesus Christ loving us.

        Thank you so much we need to pray on this. The right balance or at least the attempt we believe is an obedience to God. You touched me this day.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        4 months ago from Olympia, WA

        My father was not a boastful man. In fact, he counseled me to not boast. "You know you've done good, Bill, and that's the only person you need to please and satisfy." I grew up with this message, and I believe in it.

        Blessings always, my friend!

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Liz, thank you for sharing those valuable insights. I agree wholeheartedly. I have heard it said, that the more one talks, the more chances that he or she lies. On the other hand, really good deeds are followed by very few words.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Pam. And in keeping with the tone of this article, I give the credit to God for the ability He has so graciously given to me. I aim to be His pen.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Verlie, I can relate to your conclusion. " Braggarts are exhausting." Thanks.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Thanks, Lori. I am always encouraged by readers who show appreciation for articles with a Scripture base. there are so many interesting life lessons to learn from the Bible.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        Sunshine, your comment added sunshine to my day. Thank you very much.

      • MsDora profile imageAUTHOR

        Dora Weithers 

        4 months ago from The Caribbean

        You're right Mary. Thanks for that valuable observation about social media. It made me change my poll to reflect that. Thanks to you.

      • Eurofile profile image

        Liz Westwood 

        4 months ago from UK

        You have found an interesting collection of Bible verses and explained them very well. Would you say that those who boast often talk a lot and take little interest in the lives of those around them? It is a salutary warning for any of us who could easily slip from confidence to boasting. Maybe it's better to concentrate on listening to others and encouraging them rather than talking up our own achievements.

      • Pamela99 profile image

        Pamela Oglesby 

        4 months ago from Sunny Florida

        You make a very good case using the scriptures as to why we should strive not to boast. This well-organized article makes it so clear Ms Dora, and I think anyone can learn much from you.

      • snakeslane profile image

        Verlie Burroughs 

        4 months ago from Canada

        Dora, I appreciate these words of wisdom. There is a lot to be said for humility. Braggarts are exhausting.

      • lambservant profile image

        Lori Colbo 

        4 months ago from Pacific Northwest

        These truths are timeless and I can learn from them. I always enjoy your articles, especially those focusing on the Scriptures. I appreciate this.

      • Shing Araya profile image

        Shing Araya 

        4 months ago from Cebu, Philippines

        A great article from a very respectable woman, thanks for this.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        4 months ago from Ontario, Canada

        Now that we have many avenues to boast with all the social media available, the temptation is there. Thank you for the reminder through the stories from the Bible

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