“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Galatians 6:14
No one likes a braggart.
Or a showoff. Or a conceited ego-maniac. Or a loudmouth who loves to sing their own praises.
To be in the presence of such a person is off-putting. And that is putting it mildly.
But while we are bothered by the blatant boasting of others, we are often oblivious to a similar arrogance within our own hearts.
Now, if you hung out with me one weekend, you would hopefully conclude that I am not an arrogant, boastful person. And in one sense, you’d be right, since I’m not in the habit of bragging about how incredible I am. ☺
At the same time, however, you can’t hear the train of prideful thoughts that continuously run through my mind.
But the Lord does.
And He hears your prideful thoughts too.
You see, most of us are far more boastful in our thinking than we are in our speaking. We boast silently to ourselves, not audibly so others will hear.
Where does this boasting come from?
All boasting, whether in thought or word, is born from our own insecurity.
We crave recognition for our talents and achievements. And in one way or another, no one is exempt from this struggle.
So each of us (not just braggarts) should be deeply challenged by Paul’s declaration that he boasts only “in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Galatians 6:14). Notice he’s not saying that he stopped boasting per se. Paul’s boasting, rather, has taken on a new shape and form: the shape of a cross.
For the Jesus-follower, the focus of our boasting has fundamentally changed. Our boasting is no longer centered around self but around Jesus.
In Jesus, we are a “new creation,” made alive by His touch, breathing the life of His Spirit within (Galatians 6:15). And remember, this life transformation wasn’t the result of anything we did. It was 100% by His grace.
Grace, by definition, extinguishes any reason to boast in ourselves, but gives us every reason to boast in the astonishing gift we’ve received (Ephesians 2:9).
As such, we don’t want the world to know how great we are, but how great He is.
But do you want to know something? This kind of boasting will always sound strange to the world.
Because we are rejoicing in the cross of Christ! The cross, from the world’s standpoint, is nothing but a symbol of execution, humiliation, and defeat. But Jesus’ resurrection changed that message. He opened our eyes to see the glory of the cross.
Because of Him, our desire for the world’s recognition can be replaced by a desire to boast in the cross.
This doesn’t happen overnight. Our insecurity is too entrenched in our hearts.
But gradually, as we follow Jesus in faith, we learn to surrender our need to be noticed by others.
So, the next time you feel a boastful thought bubbling up within you, pause and redirect it.
Don’t boast in your own accomplishments, but in what Jesus accomplished on your behalf.
Written by Jonathan Munson, Executive Director, RFTH