Muhammad Ali is regarded as one of the best heavyweight boxers of the 20th century. And, he knew it. While most fighters of that time preferred to let their managers do the talking for them, Ali basked in the spotlight and never held back in giving himself praise. He frequently boasted of his own prowess, often in poetic fashion: “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee. The hands can’t hit what the eyes can’t see.” The man who often referred to himself as “the greatest” was once quoted as saying, “It’s hard to be humble when you’re as great as I am.”
God’s Word is clear that boasting of one’s abilities or deeds in a manner that shows pride or self-satisfaction is both arrogant and evil (James 4:16). Boasting in oneself is an expression of pride and one of the characteristics of unrighteousness (Romans 1:29-31). A person who boasts in his own abilities or deeds, who commends himself, is not one who is approved by God. Rather, it is the person commended by God who is approved (2 Corinthians 10:18). Boasting in oneself is improper boasting, but there is boasting that is not only proper, but also biblical.
Although it is not right for us to boast in ourselves, Scripture tells us that it is appropriate to boast in or praise other people (Proverbs 27:2). The apostle Paul boasted in the church in Corinth (2 Corinthians 7:14), and Jesus commended six of the seven churches that He spoke to in Revelation. So, boasting in the accomplishments of others is proper, but the greatest boasting that we can possibly do is to boast in the Lord.
In both of his letters to the believers in Corinth, Paul points out that Scripture says that the person who boasts should boast in the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:31; 2 Corinthians 10:17). In Psalm 44:8, the sons of Korah state that, in God, they make their boast all day long. Boasting in the Lord, giving Him glory, is both the highest and most appropriate form of boasting there is. In fact, God is delighted when we boast of the things that we know about Him (Jeremiah 9:24). Clearly, boasting in the Lord is proper boasting.
The object of our boasting should never be ourselves. We can boast in others, but above all, the object of our boasting can and should be the Lord. As the psalmist says, “Some trust in and boast of chariots and some of horses, but we will trust in and boast of the name of the Lord our God.” (Psalm 20:7, AMP*).
*”Scripture quotations taken from the Amplified Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)