“BOAST FOR NOTHING”                                  By Pastor YAU

Text: 1 Corinthians 1:26-31                                  June 14, 2009.

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A lesson from history: Legend has it that Michelangelo painted with a brush in one hand and a candle in the other to prevent his shadow from covering his masterpiece in progress. That’s the kind of attitude we should adopt if we are serious about wanting to display the masterpiece God is painting on the canvas of our lives. When the believers in Corinth were feeling too full of themselves, Paul warned them “that no one should boast in the presence of God.” (1 Corinthians 1:29)

2)   A lesson for the presence: Think of your life as a canvas on which a portrait is being painted. What would you rather have people see: the masterpiece of the presence of God or the shadow of your own image? When life is all about us, it’s hard for others to see God in us. We are saved to reflect the glory of God, (Romans 8:29) but when all we live is for ourselves, boast everything about us and of us, our shadow gets cast on the canvas God is painting His image.

 

BOASTING IN THE BIBLE: Case stories of human boasting and their tragic consequences.

1)    Boasting of name: “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other: Come, let’s make bricks and baked them thoroughly. They used bricks instead of stones, and tar for mortar. Then they said: Come, let us build a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:1-4) God had created men to reflect His image, (Gen. 1:27) but when men became many and grew stronger, they instead wanted to boast theirs. The result was a disaster: the instant destruction of human unity by the confusion of their languages.

2)    Boasting of power: “Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and He incited David against them, saying: Go and take a census of Israel and Judah. So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him: Go through out the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men so that I know how many are there. After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and 20 days. Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel, there are 800,000 able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah 500,000.” (2 Samuel 24:1-2, 8-9) King David later regretted of this boastful act. With his prayer of repentance, 70,000 Israelites still died. (24:15-17) David forgot the bases of his victory was never his soldiers.

3)    Boasting of riches: “At that time, Merodach-Baladan, son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent Hezekiah letters and a gift because had heard of Hezekiah’s illness. Hezekiah received the messengers and showed them all that was in his storehouses, the silver, the gold, the spices and the fine oil, his armory and everything among his treasures. There was nothing in his palaces and in all his kingdom Hezekiah did not show them.” (2 Kings 20:12-13) This act of pride or boasting of riches cost Hezekiah the kingdom and the capture of his sons to Babylon. (24:16-18) He ignored the warning of the Lord to his ancestors through Moses: “You may say to yourself; My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me. But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18)

4)    Boasting of success: “The ground of a rich man produced a good crop. He thought to himself: What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops. Then he said: “This is what I will do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones and there I will store all my grain and my good. And I will say to my soul: You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy: eat, drink and be merry.” (Luke 12:16-19)This rich man forgot that it was God who provided the ground, the rain and all the natural elements that brought him a good crop. He wrongly believed that he was the one who made all the success. His pride on the success of the crop and selfish mindset on what he had eventually cost him a high price, his life. (12:20)

 

WHY IS BOASTING BAD?

1)    It steals God’s glory: Very early in the history of Israel before they entered into the Promised Land, God worried that the people of Israel may become boastful after they had occupied the land and became very rich. It is a sin to steal the glory of God who gave them the land and the strength to make wealth. God sent Moses to warn them specifically not to do that. For anyone of us to boast on things that belong to God is stealing the glory from God. (Deuteronomy 8:11-18)

2)    It creates false gods: The first of the Ten Commandments is “Thou shall not have other gods.” (Genesis 20:3)The cardinal sin Israelites had committed that God hated the most is creating and worshipping other gods. When people focus on wealth, fame, power or anything else they become their gods. When people boast on what they have and become gods others worship, they become the objects of God’s anger and punishment. When people created gods on things they own or on themselves, they become center of focus for others, and people cannot see God through their lives. They and what they have casting their shadows over.

3)    It generates independence: The primary purpose of Satan’s temptation on Eve was to make her and her husband Adam, independent of God. He told Ever that “the day you eat it, you will be like God.” What he didn’t tell Eve was “then you don’t need God.” Many successful people in power, wealth, fame and education feel that they don’t really need God since they are so capable of handling things in their lives. Some of these people never want anything to do with God. Those they have believed in God at one time may drift away from God because of their sense of self sufficiency and independence.

4)    It brings destruction: God did not just give them a command, He also gave them serious warning on the consequences if they violate God’s command: they shall perish if they turn away from God and His command. They did and they perished as a nation in only a few centuries. Boasting is an expression of pride and pride has destroyed countless people in all levels of life from kings and dignitaries to people in politics, business, homes and even churches. When we boast on the blessings of God, it is the beginning of the end. (8:19-20) “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Peter 5:5; Proverbs 3:34)When God withdraws his grace from you and begins to oppose you, you are in dire trouble the rest of your life.

 

LEARN HOW NOT TO BOAST: (1 Corinthians 1:26-31)

1)    Remember how it started: “Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standard, not many were influential, not many were of noble birth.” (1:26) The very first step not to boast is never forget our humble beginning when God called us: we didn’t have much, were not much and weren’t worth much. When God called us, it is because of his love, not because who we were or what we had. If we can start our spiritual journey in a low and humble key, we may be able to keep it that way down the road.

2)    It’s all because of his grace: “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are.” (1:27-28) Paul used 5 different words to describe the low, unworthy, despised, weak and foolish condition we were in when God called us. We have nothing to boast about because we were and still are nothing. It is completely His grace that we are called and saved.

3)    We have nothing to boast: “So that no one may boast before God.” (1:29)Boasting is more than spoken words. It could be on the inside, in our mind, our pride: better-than-you attitude, and feeling superior. If you have anything that makes you feel superior now, it is all because of God’s blessing and not your ability, wise plans or hard work. We have nothing of our own that we may boast: not our background, not our education, not our smart plans, not our connection and not anything we may think of that brings us to who we are and what we have today. So, no one, nothing, we may boast about.

4)    Everything is in Jesus Christ: “It is because of him you are in Christ Jesus who has become for us wisdom from God---that is our righteousness, holiness and redemption.” (1:30)Just as the Jews were justified totally because of Jesus Christ, we received everything we have from God because of Jesus Christ; status of salvation, ability to make wealth, to serve, to grow and to gain favor of God and man. Without Jesus Christ, we are nothing. We have nothing to boast of worldly gains. Neither do we have anything to boast of spiritual gains. This leads to the last point:

5)    We boast all in the Lord: “Therefore, as it is written: Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1:31; Jeremiah 9:24)Boast also means “praise” or “honor”. No man deserves any praise or honor in who he is or what he has. All that he is and has are the gifts of God through the Lord Jesus Christ. So, next time when we feel there is something in us or of us we want to praise or to honor, give all of them to Jesus Christ who is the only one truly worthy of all praises and honors.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Casting no shadows: Each one of us is a canvas God is painting his portrait on it so people around us can see Him. How do we live our life has so much to do in the result of His image others see. We cannot add anything to the painting to make it better. God is already the best. But if we cast our shadows over His work that causes a distorted image, a blur picture that others can’t see the real image of God, we are hurting the work Jesus came to do: to save the world from their sins. So, it is very important that we do not cast our shadow or image of our own in the way we live. It is all about Jesus, nothing about us.

2)   Boasting nothing: Remember when and how when God first touched our lives and saved us from our sins and put us back in His kingdom. Remember how humble and nothing we once were before God began to bless our lives. So, if we see anything in your life that may cause you to feel proud in your heart, get rid of it before it becomes a shadow blocking the image of God in you. Pride and boasting can bring you only one thing: away from God and self-destruction.

3)   Learn from a tax-collector: In the parable given by Jesus in Luke 18:13, a tax collector, deemed as the worst sinner of all the sinners in Israel at the time, approached God and asked for forgiveness of his sins. Jesus did more than forgave his sins, he made him as an example of all sinners: be humble, admit your sins and ask God to forgive you and He will. Get rid of your pride. Don’ believe the lie that you can get through life without God. It is never too late to confess your sins and ask Him to forgive you and give you new direction for life.