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Bragging and Arrogant Pride


***

Bragging about old times
two men were boasting to each other about their old army days.
“Why, my outfit was so well drilled,” declared one, “that when they

presented arms all you could hear was slap, slap, click.”
“Very good,” conceded the other, “but when my company

presented arms you’d just hear slap, slap, jingle.”
“What was the jingle?” asked the first. “Oh,” replied the other offhand, “just our medals.”

***

 

Ever get into one of those conversations that headed the direction of the joke above?  You tell your story and your friend seems to think they need to ‘one up’ you.  After they’ve had their turn, you’re ready with yet another story that will top theirs.  Sometimes we do this in jest, but other times we really do this because we absolutely want our story, no matter how far the truth is stretched, to be the best.  We boast and it gets out of hand.

 

I’m sure that most of you know someone who is a lot of talk.  By this I mean life seems to be all about them.  For some reason, they’re always better.  They have the better job.  Their car, no matter what kind, always outdoes someone else’s.  Better gas mileage.  Seats smell nicer.  Oh, and they always get the best deal at the grocery store.  Their kids are smarter than anyone else’s.  Their dog is too.  They can run fast and cook the best hamburger.  They have stylish hair…even if there’s not much of it.  This might be an extreme, but I know you know someone like this.  Hmmm…is it you?

 

Most of us are probably familiar with the phrase, “Pride goeth before a fall.”  What exactly is this boastful pride that the Bible says has no place in true love…the love and character of God?  My guess is, that if we look closely again at why we are called to love and Paul’s description of it, we will gain a new perspective.

 

We are called to love God and love our neighbor.  Everything from the Old Testament and New Testament combined..even the life of Jesus himself, is summed up in these two commandments.  Pride or arrogance has no home among these two instructions.  Paul writes that love doesn’t boast and is not proud…and I believe the idea is simple.

 

The boastful person or the prideful person is about themselves.  Boasting has the intent to draw attention to oneself.  Pride carries the intent to think highly of oneself.  Someone might say that it is good to be confident, but strength through confidence doesn’t draw attention intentionally.  There is a quiet confidence that is clothed in humility.  Jesus carried the confidence of who He was, what He could do and what His purpose was.  Inside of that confidence, people were drawn to Him…and He was all about letting them know who He served and how they could know Him better.

 

Pride doesn’t point to Jesus.  Boasting pulls attention away from God.  God Himself said this in Jeremiah 9:23-24:

23 This is what the Lord says: “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, 24 but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord.

It’s all about getting people to know God.  In the end, it will not matter how many quarters we can catch from our elbow or how many hot dogs we can eat in a 5 minute period.  In the end it will not matter how much money we made or if our car was new every 3 years.  In the end it won’t matter if our clothes were permanent press or 100% cotton.  It won’t even matter if we lived the American dream.  God’s dream for us trumps any other dream we can conjure up for ourselves.  In the end it will only matter if we loved God with everything we have and if we loved our neighbor as ourselves.  If we love God we will believe in and follow His son.  If we love our neighbor, we won’t brag or be proud of “us stuff.”  We will see and recognize their accomplishments and their needs alike and try to be a part of their life…so much so that they see God through us and are drawn to Him.  Love does not brag and is not proud.

Can you picture your church family as one that grabs hold of this concept and puts away verbal bragging and self pointing pride?  What would a church family be known for if bragging and pride were not part of the vocabulary.  Those one up stories would stop at the first story…and it would be the other person’s story.  And we might follow with a phrase like “that’s great!” or “wow, you did that?” or “that is so cool!”  It would be about lifting them up…even if we knew they are bragging.  In doing so, in being kind and patient, we will exude the character of God for His children.  In time, people will notice and wonder why we are different.  The church family that does this will absolutely be known in the community…not by the name on their sign at the foot of the driveway, but by their love.  And Jesus verified this in John 13:35.  Let’s move forward as the church on the planet with strong confidence in who and who’s we are…bringing more and more with us to our home in Heaven.

Love, Serve, Spread the Word,

Ed

 

Questions for growth:

  • Are you prone to feeling like you need to ‘one up’ people around you?
  • Can you now get a sense for how you sound when you have the next best story?
  • Can you see how it can interfere with your purpose for taking people to Heaven?
  • What will be a couple of phrases you will put in your back pocket to pull out when you have the “need” to tell a better story or when you’re driven to brag or be proud? What kind of phrases can you create and reiterate that focus on God or the other person?
  • Is there a person who is boastful or overly proud that you are regularly in conversation with?  How will you approach them differently now so that they might see God’s glory through you?…maybe not immediately, but in time with patience?
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