but we will not boast beyond limits, but will boast only with regard to the area of influence God assigned to us, to reach even to you. [2 Corinthians 10:13]
one of the ways i am taken out of the presence of God is to spend time thinking about myself. i think and talk about who or what i am not.
i compare myself to where other people are in their careers, in their marriages, in their finances, in their spiritual life, in their life decisions. i look at people doing the “big things” for the gospel. i become deaf and blind to the Holy Spirit, who convicts the conscience and calls me to repentance, and i listen to the evil one, who accuses me and heaps guilt and shame on my head. i want to be important. i want to be seen. i want to boast in myself.
i need to reorient my eyes to the glory of the sovereignty of God. what does this have to do with boasting? everything.
God is absolutely sovereign and has put you where you are:
in marriage or singleness
in the body of Christ
in area of influence
when we see ourselves rightly, we will recognize that we cannot find reason for boasting in anyone but Jesus. john the baptist–like paul–had every worldly reason to boast in the work he was performing. john had disciples and could have had power and position and exalted himself–instead he boasted only in Christ–
john answered, “a person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. you yourselves bear me witness, that i said, ‘i am not the Christ, but i have been sent before him.’ the one who has the bride is the bridegroom. the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. therefore this joy of mine is now complete. he must increase, but i must decrease.” [john 3:27-29]
we cannot boast in ourselves because we have nothing to bring, nothing to boast in. everything has been given to us from above–in joy, we rejoice in Jesus Christ’s voice. Christ must increase, we must decrease!
boasting is encouraging if it flows out of us, pointing others to Christ. what if the person you were discipling, your spouse, your child, your friend or your unbelieving neighbor heard the boast (in word and deed) “i love you, and i know that God wants me to encourage you in Christ–i am grateful that he has brought us together. let us push on to know the Lord!” this is the kind of boasting that paul is doing, it is the kind of boasting that builds up the church, and points to our beautiful savior, Jesus Christ.
let us stop thinking about the things we are not and the lives we wish we had. instead, let us be thankful for the roles and relationships in which God has sovereignly placed us. we can reach out to one another, by call or text, boasting in Christ for bringing us together, and stir one another up to love and good works in our joy!