The Etiquette of Boasting

Pliny the younger (61-112 A.D.)
Plutarch (50-120 A.D.)

10 different ways to praise oneself inoffensively…

1 ) Defending your good name or answering a charge

2 ) Unfortunate

3 ) Contrast

4 ) Blending the praises of his audience with his own

5 ) Praise another

6 ) Amending the praise

7) Throw in certain minor shortcomings, failures, or faults

8 ) Exhort, his hearers and inspire them with emulation and ambition

9 ) To overawe and restrain the hearer and to humble and subdue the headstrong and rash

10 ) Important issues are at stake, it is no disservice to counteract it, or rather to divert the hearer’s purpose to a better course by pointing out the difference… Such praise is the best shown for what it is when true praise is set beside it…

Some examples:

2 Cor. 11:19-24 – “21 To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! What anyone else dares to boast about-– I am speaking as a fool– I also dare to boast about.”

Paul is using the 10th reason because he simply has to help the Corinthians understand what is at stake and to steer them away from them.

2 Cor. 10:8,12-14,17,18 – “13 We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you. 14 We are not going too far in our boasting, as would be the case if we had not come to you, for we did get as far as you with the gospel of Christ.”

Paul is talking about the Super Apostles and point out that they cannot come into a church that Paul, himself, has been assigned to. Who are they?

2 Cor. 1:12-15 – “Now this is our boast:: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, in the holiness and sincerity that are from God. We have done so not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace. 13 For we do not write to you anything you cannot read or understand. And I hope that, 14 as you have understood us in part, you will come to understand fully that you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus.”

Paul is showing them that there is a higher purpose in his boasting for the Corinthian’s sake. Paul wants them to realize that when the Super Apostles come around and start boasting, the Corinthians will have as much or more to boast about Paul in order that the Christians inCorinth will not be lead away into heresy.

Boasting in Romans…

Romans 2:17,22-24 – “23 You who boast about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law? 24 As it is written: “God’s name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.””

Romans 3:27-31 – “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what law? On that of works? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29 Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.”

Romans 5:1-4 – “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, LET US HAVE peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And LET US rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but LET US boast in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not shame us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.”

For Romans 5, Paul is encouraging us to boast in each other to push one another one to glory and hope and continued obedience.

What are the implications?

1) Confidence in God’s people – it is something leaders should inspire

a. The church is the pennacle and center of God’s creation

2) Godly leaders should put themselves on the line for the sake of others

3) Christians should boast in the Lord.

a. Relational reciprocity – we honor Christ in the eyes of others when we share the Gospel and tell others about our Jesus and what He has done for us

4) Boasting over other groups of people is not on!

a. The words “arrogant” and “Christian” don’t go together