Self-promoters do not build others up because they simply don’t have time. They are too busy focusing on themselves. And it doesn’t matter what anyone else in the room has accomplished, it is never as good. Boasting about one’s own achievements is common, but that doesn’t make it healthy. No one ever brags on a bragger. People who might normally be impressed with what you can do, will likely not be impressed with you going on and on about what you’ve done.
To boast is to ‘puff up oneself in speech; express too much pride in yourself or something you have done’. The apostle Paul wrote to the early Christians about love. In one of the most moving pieces of literature in history he tells what love is, and what it is not. One of the things he says is, “Love is not boastful.” (1 Corinthians 13:4) The idea is not that love does not accomplish great things. But rather that love does not promote itself. We happen to know that love accomplishes the greatest things in life. But it does not shine the light on itself. This is important for us to understand if we are to love people as Christ did.
Have you ever had someone do something wonderful for you, and then go around talking about the good thing they did? Did you ever get to the point where you wish they had not done that good thing to begin with? Goodness can get lost in vanity. Or how about the situation when it is your birthday or Christmas, and a friend watches with delight as you open their present. You show appreciation, and then they proceed to pounce with, “Do you really like the gift? I thought you would. When I saw it, I thought of you. I hope you like it. I wanted to get you something special.” By the time they are done bragging about getting you a special gift, you aren’t sure you like the gift anymore.
We were made to love. By loving well, with a self-sacrificing love like we find in Paul’s letter, we exhibit the same love that took Jesus to the cross. We actually know that ultimate story of love, not because Christ keeps telling us what He did for us, but because people who have been profoundly affected by that loving act keep telling other people. Jesus didn’t have to boast about Himself. His act prompted others to brag on His love for them. We should be the same way. If you act in love, you won’t have to tell people about your love. Your love will tell people about you.
This warning against boasting is not meant to suggest that you have not accomplished great things, or that those things are not important enough to share. It is simply to say that we should spend more time doing good things in love, and less time talking about how loving we are. If you are going to boast, boast about Jesus. Boast about someone else. Today, do not be a boaster. Be a toaster. Stand and applaud the loving work of others. That in itself is a great act of true love. And for that, I salute you. (See… isn’t it better when others pat you on the back instead of trying to do it yourself?)
Find more of David’s work at Heart Of Ministry.