No One Likes a Bragger
If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. 2 Corinthians 11:30
In general, boasting is an annoying behavior and most of us find it off-putting when someone tells us how wonderful they are. Pride is an ugly thing that we despise in others, even while we indulge in it ourselves. We may or may not say it out loud, but most of us desire some recognition for our achievements, appearance, talents, or successes. So, even though we find boasting irritating when someone else does it, we’re often tempted to inform others of how wonderful we are.
In today’s passage though, Paul said that if he boasted, he would boast in his weaknesses. Elsewhere, Paul said that it was his failures that made him desperate for Christ’s ongoing work of transformation (Romans 7:24-25). Paul knew his own nature and he understood that it was in his struggles that he turned to God, learning faith and obedience. If he was made perfect, he wouldn’t need God. It was in his persistent need that he learned to rely on God’s power and not on himself.
I can’t say that I like this, but I’m learning to accept it. When I got out of treatment, I felt like I had life all figured out – for about an hour. Then reality hit and my persistent flaws were exposed. Even seven years later, I still have daily struggles. I may not be using drugs, but lately, I’ve been cranky and angry. Maybe I’m not eating well. Maybe I miss my kids. Maybe it’s been too busy at work. Whatever it is, I’ve been irritable, and I’ve acted immaturely.
This bothers me. I’m supposed to be grown up, living in recovery. I’m supposed to be transformed. Yet, I still have flaws and failures. According to Paul, this is normal and it’s what keeps us dependent on God. If we were made perfect today, we’d have no need of God tomorrow. So, while we live in these imperfect bodies, we will have our flaws, requiring the ongoing work of transformation and sanctification.
There is a tremendous difference between living enslaved to a struggle and using my struggle to keep me dependent on God. If I daily use my need to keep me pursuing Christ, then my need is a good thing. Seen in this light, like Paul, I can boast about my ongoing need because it keeps me dependent on God. Daily, I can use my persistent flaws to cause me to continue to grow. As it turns out, I need my need.