Pride. Ego. Boasting.
Not a great trio of "gifts".
I think we can follow up those three words with three others:
Dividing. Critical. Arrogance.
Have you ever met that person who purports to be a spokesperson for God?
I do all of the time.
Some think that they have been called by God to give "words of judgement" to the church, when in reality it is not God's calling at all.
Now, don't get me wrong, words of judgement, direct words from God do need to come to the body of Christ, but the scriptures are clear that these words are to be spoken in love and given from a place of humbleness and humility.
One of the characteristics of someone that I look at, concerning someone who says that they are a "prophet", is their past experience of walking through the fire, through trials and tribulations that have brought them to a point of total dependence upon God.
The Old Testament is filled with "prophets" who were speaking out, but not speaking out from a centerness of true humility of the Holy Spirit in them. As a result, God brought them down.
God will not tolerate being second place when it comes to receiving glory.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 13:4, "Love doesn't boast."
Let me give you a definition of boasting.
Boasting is what the person with the more apparent gift does to those who have lesser gifts.
In many circles we have boosted boasting to a fine art.
When I go to minister's conferences, the question among pastors is always, "how is it going at your church," which translates out to, "how many people now come?"
Some respond, "well, our church has doubled in the last ten years."
With that response is the sense that "God's doing something for me, and not doing it for you."
"Well, in our life group, God is moving," the person says as they look down their nose at other life groups. Pride. Ego. Boasting.
"God is moving in my life, why doesn't God move in yours?" Pride. Ego. Boasting.
"What the church needs is _______ (and fill in the blank)." Pride. Ego. Boasting.
If God gives you something, accept it. But boasting is saying you're richer than other people, better looking than other people, more gifted than other people, more spiritual than other people.
"If only the church were filled with people like me," they shout out, "people who really know God."
Boasting says, "I have the word of God for the church," when that word has not been tested or tried.
Boasting puts us in competition rather than in communion.
I would suggest that if you live your life before God and accept what he has given you and just do it, you can live without boasting.
William Carey is called the father of modern missions. As a young man he was a cobbler. He repaired shoes. But he was a brilliant linguist. Even as he repaired the shoes he learned Greek and Hebrew.
Later he taught school, and then he went to India. Because of his linguistic ability, 34 dialects and languages have the Bible in their language.
When he was in India, he spent time with people who were there on business, usually people educated in the best schools. One day in one of the dinners, someone said in a rather loud voice, "Mr. Carey, I understand that when you were growing up you were a shoemaker?"
And Carey said, "No, no, no, sir. I was not a shoemaker. I repaired shoes. I didn't have the ability to make them." Somebody who can handle life that way was able to take India for God.
Love doesn't boast. It doesn't destroy community.
It doesn't seek to destroy or tear down. It seeks to encourage and build up.
May we all strive to walk in humility before God.