I’m not saying that because I’ve done surveillance on you. I’m saying that because we all boast in something. We are always searching for something that sets us apart from others.
We boast in what we turn to for security. Whatever we turn to when the chips are down, to tell us, “Everything is going to be okay.” Whatever we think guarantees that good things will be ahead for us. Whatever tells us that we are good, acceptable people and that our lives will be approved by whoever’s opinion matters to us.
Some people boast in how talented or beautiful they are. Others boast in how much they know. Some in what they own or how much they’ve accomplished. Some in how morally good they are. Some in the strength of their families.
Paul experienced some of those things, but he told the Galatians that he would never again boast about anything besides the gospel—a message that declared that Paul was such a miserable wreck that the Son of God had to endure a bloody death just to keep him out of hell (Gal. 6:14).
Paul boasted in his shame.
Paul’s boast in the gospel is like sitting in a room of millionaires and boasting about your collection of food stamps.
My family loves the comedian Brian Regan. Almost every family night includes us watching one of his sketches. One of our favorites is about the “Me Monster.” You know, the guy at the party who manages to turn the focus of every conversation toward himself. No matter what you’ve done, he’s done something better.
Brian wishes he had the chance to walk on the moon because then, he says, he’d always have a retort for the me monster. “Oh yeah, well I walked on the moon.” Because, you know, nothing beats walking on the moon.
Paul believes there is something even better than that, however. And it is exactly the opposite of the me-monster boast.
He says, “I’ve been given the riches of Christ, sonship in heaven, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the promise that goodness and mercy will now follow me all the days of my life. And I deserved none of it. God gave me these things just because he loves me.”
The gospel, for Paul, is the ultimate dinner-story boast.
It’s the only true humble brag. And one anyone can participate in.
J. D. Greear, Above All: The Gospel Is the Source of the Church’s Renewal (Nashville, TN: B&H Books, 2019).
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