“For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?” (1 Corinthians 4:7, NASB95PARA)
Pride is a trap. It begins early in life when we begin to compare ourselves, our families, and our accomplishments with others. It’s seen in whose mom is a better cook or even better looking for that matter, who is faster or smarter. It is becomes intricately intertwined with accomplishment, and it can for many lead to extreme perceptions of ourselves in a variety of directions from self-deprecation and the constant criticism of ourselves and self-image issues or incessant boasting and the sticking of our thumbs up under our armpits as we “strut our stuff” whatever that stuff might be.
In Isaiah 14 we read of the taunts that were to come of the king of Babylon. ““They will all respond and say to you, ‘Even you have been made weak as we, you have become like us. ‘Your pomp and the music of your harps Have been brought down to Sheol; Maggots are spread out as your bed beneath you and worms are your covering.’ “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth, you who have weakened the nations! “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly in the recesses of the north. ‘I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ “Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:10–15, NASB95PARA)
People and pedestals go back a long way. In fact, they go back before people to the very father of pride to Satan himself. In Luke 10, after Jesus had sent out the seventy-two to proclaim his coming, we read, “The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.” And He said to them, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you. Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”” (Luke 10:17–20, NASB95PARA)
Long before the king of Babylon was to fall from his great pride, Satan himself was cast from heaven. And, as these witnesses to the power of God returned with their great stories of success Jesus cautioned them not to rejoice in the success which really came from the hand of God, but to rejoice that indeed their own names are recorded in heaven because that same hand of God moved to save their souls. Both judgment and salvation rest in the hand of God, and as His ambassadors we are to rejoice in Him and His great works including those that He chooses to do through us.
After King David had received a great offering from the people for the temple that his son, Solomon, after him was to build he prayed. “So David blessed the Lord in the sight of all the assembly; and David said, “Blessed are You, O Lord God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, indeed everything that is in the heavens and the earth; Yours is the dominion, O Lord, and You exalt Yourself as head over all. Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone. Now therefore, our God, we thank You, and praise Your glorious name. “But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your hand we have given You. For we are sojourners before You, and tenants, as all our fathers were; our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no hope. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided to build You a house for Your holy name, it is from Your hand, and all is Yours. Since I know, O my God, that You try the heart and delight in uprightness, I, in the integrity of my heart, have willingly offered all these things; so now with joy I have seen Your people, who are present here, make their offerings willingly to You. O Lord, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, our fathers, preserve this forever in the intentions of the heart of Your people, and direct their heart to You; and give to my son Solomon a perfect heart to keep Your commandments, Your testimonies and Your statutes, and to do them all, and to build the temple, for which I have made provision.”” (1 Chronicles 29:10–19, NASB95PARA)
King David, unlike the king of Babylon, recognized who it was that was the source of everything that he saw before him. Similarly, Job after having lost his possessions and his children, responded, “Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head, and he fell to the ground and worshiped. He said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.” (Job 1:20–22, NASB95PARA)
God is our creator. He designed our bodies with all of their intricacies and He gives us breath. He created this place in which He has given us to live and He holds it together even in the midst of the devastation which sin has brought. He created us to experience the joy that we know as we look into the life of our newborn babies and even now He sustains us in the loss that we feel as we hold the hand of a loved one for the last time. Everything that we have is a gift from Him.
“Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” … “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” (James 1:11, 17, NASB95PARA)
So, when it comes to boasting consider the words of Paul earlier in this letter, “so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”” (1 Corinthians 1:31, NASB95PARA)