2 Corinthians 10:12-18
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves…
I. WRONG BOASTING.
1. That we excel some others. We are very apt, like some at Corinth, to compare ourselves with certain around us. This is measuring by a false standard, and measuring by a false standard is likely to lead to enormously erroneous results. The question is not whether we excel others, but whether we have attained to the measure for which God created and endowed us. The true measuring rod is not found in the stature, physical mental, or moral, of our fellows; the true measuring rod is held in the hands of the Almighty. If a man were to judge of himself by comparing himself with a mouse or a molehill, we should say he was a fool; and the apostle says, "They themselves, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding" (ver. 12). It has been said, "The one-eyed is easily king among the blind."
2. That we possess what we are destitute of, and that we have done what we have not done. Wrong boasting is the twin brother of downright lying. The false teachers at Corinth boasted of gifts which they did not possess, and took to themselves the credit of other men's labours. It is astonishing what powers of appropriation the boastful spirit possesses. When a man once gets addicted to vain glory it is useless to attempt to predict to what excesses he will be led. He clears the barriers of truth as though they were straws. What he is, is what he can persuade people to think him; what he has done is what he can by any means induce them to credit. The braggart knows no restraint. His parish is the world - the worlds of fact and fiction rolled into one, and he is as much at home in the one as in the other. His domain has only one boundary - the credulity of his listeners.
3. That the praise of our good actions is to be ascribed to us. This strikes at the root of wrong boasting. A boasting which robs God must be of the devil, The man who knows himself knows that there is no good thing in him. If he finds anything good he immediately concludes that it did not spring from himself, and he looks about for the originator and owner. It is only the very bad who think themselves very good. If we are disposed to take the praise of our good actions to ourselves it is strong evidence that these actions were not really good. "Good" actions cannot be done by those who are so utterly out of true relation to God.
II. RIGHT BOASTING. This is boasting or glorying in the Lord (ver. 17). We may boast of God, and the more boastful we are in this direction the better. There will be no danger of running to excess; after we have boasted to our utmost we shall have fallen far short of the truth. Alas! few things are more uncommon than this boasting in God. Fallen human nature finds it easier and more reasonable to boast of the mud puddle than of the crystal ocean - of the dim rushlight than of the glorious sun.
1. We may well boast of the Divine perfections. Here we shall find an inexhaustible subject. The glories of our God will exhaust our powers of glorying. Whilst carnal men applaud their little gods, the saints may well extol Jehovah. "Who is a God like unto our God?" we may proudly cry. Pride becomes one of the chiefest virtues when it is centred in God. Christians are not half boastful enough in the right direction, and twice too boastful in the wrong. Shame upon us that we boast so little of our God!
2. We may well boast of the great redemptive work of God. So loud should be our boasting as to make all men hear it. Here the perfection of God finds highest and most beautiful expression. Here each Person in the adorable Trinity works a matchless work of grace and power. Upon us especially, since we are the subjects of redemption, rests the burden of boasting respecting it. This is our peculiar province of glorying. Of all creatures in the universe we are bound to this service. If we were silent, surely the stones would cry out. As God has wrought this great thing for us, we must never let men or God hear the last of it! What a subject for boast! Where is there aught that can for a moment compare with it? Boast, ye Christians, of redeeming love till all your powers of boasting fail.
3. We may well boast of God's work in us and through us.
(1) In us. When we joyfully recognize that we are growing in grace we must exult in the God of all grace. This thing is not of us, but of him. To him must all the praise be accorded. The "old man" within us is the child of our fall and our folly; the "new man" is God's special creation. Clearly should we realize this, and concentrate all our boasting in him from whom this "unspeakable Gift" (which is "Christ in us") emanates. Humility and abasement in respect of ourselves; boastfulness in respect of him who has wrought the marvel in us.
(2) Through us. To depreciate what is accomplished through us is but lying humility. Paul was not guilty of it. It is professedly abasing ourselves and really abasing God. When the work accomplished is undoubted, the only right course is to glory to our utmost in the God who has accomplished it. We must reserve no praise for ourselves, since we have deserved none; all the praise must be his. We need care, however, when glorying in God for what he has accomplished through us, lest, whilst ostensibly praising him, we should be covertly praising ourselves. There is a mouth of hell which lies near the gate of heaven. We must guard against feeding conceit by supposing that we are of ourselves instruments so fit that God could not have so well performed the work through others; or that through personal merit we are favourites of God, and that therefore he has specially wrought his will through us; or that, having been so honoured, we may now hold our heads high. Whilst extolling God we must abase ourselves; whilst boasting in him we must refuse to glory in the least in the unworthy instrument. That he has so greatly distinguished what was so greatly unworthy should but deepen and intensify our humility. - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
WEB: For we are not bold to number or compare ourselves with some of those who commend themselves. But they themselves, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves with themselves, are without understanding.