Key Verse: 2 Corinthians 10:17 (NIV) “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”
Generally speaking, most of us disapprove of boasting. We don’t like boasters because they seem either bent on putting us down by exalting themselves or, on the other hand, too hungry for our approval. In both cases it’s a pain. doubly obnoxious is the person who boasts about his spirituality — he’s not only better than you on the human plane, but he’s also achieved superior approval on the heavenly plane. Such arrogance!
Paul talks about boasting in verses 12-18. The context: boasting about ministry. He refers to those who “measure themselves by themselves” and “compare themselves with themselves: (v.12) and declares he won’t even “dare to classify or compare ourselves with these who commend themselves.” It’s not that Paul is opposed to a proper boast once in a while (see 11:16) — it’s just that he refuses to boast apart from track record. For example, he says he “will not boast beyond proper limits”, that is, he won’t say, “I’ve done a great work for God” in a general way. Rather, he will say, “I have done a great work for God among the Corinthians”. Or, as he says in verse 13, he “will confine [his] boasting to the field God has assigned to [him]”, and here is where track record comes in — “a field that reaches even to you”. In other words, he will boast to those who know his record, and those who know his record know that his bottom-line boast is “in the Lord”.
Something just as obnoxious as unsupported boasting is false humility. Why? Because we know intuitively that a self-detracting response to commendation is just a call for more commendation. What you want to hear when you commend someone is, “Yes, thank you. I’m pleased myself”, or something along that line.
And when it comes to God’s work, how about saying, “Praise the Lord! He has done great things!” And then thank God for including you in the process.