May 8, 2022

Biblical Wisdom Warns Against Boastful Speech

Written by:
Rev (Dr) Prabhudas Koshy

We live in a ‘selfie-world’!

Man’s tendency to boast about himself has been on shameless display on social media, such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. The craze of snapping self-portraits and posting them on social media has caught on with a generation enamoured with self-promotion. Some even say, “My day is not complete until the selfie is posted.” Alas, the narcissistic tendencies of man have found a platform for free expression in social media! Self-centredness and an excessive desire to be admired by others are plaguing our modern society.

Though self-boasting seems to give self-satisfaction, those who are engaged in it are unaware of its maladies. They are deluded by the vainglory of self-praise. They pride themselves on their looks, abilities, achievements, willpower, and self-righteousness. Scripture warns us that “in the last days perilous times shall come” when “men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud,” etc. (2 Timothy 3:1-2).

Disdainful Speech of Self-Boasting

To boast about oneself is to talk in a bragging manner, and is manifested by prideful speaking about oneself and about the things one possesses or does. God disdains this and regards it as vile and abominable. A boastful person is depicted as wicked, materialistic, arrogant, vulgar, accursed and suchlike. “For the wicked boasteth of his heart’s desire, and blesseth the covetous, whom the LORD abhorreth. The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. His ways are always grievous; thy judgments are far above out of his sight: as for all his enemies, he puffeth at them. He hath said in his heart, I shall not be moved: for I shall never be in adversity. His mouth is full of cursing and deceit and fraud: under his tongue is mischief and vanity” (Psalm 10:3-7).

Scripture tells us that prideful, swelling speech characterises Satan (Isaiah 14:12-15), Antichrist (Daniel 7:8, 11, 25; 8:11; 11:36-37; Revelation 13:5-6), false teachers (2 Peter 2:18; 1 Timothy 6:4), and many churchgoers of the last days (2 Timothy 3:1-2; Jude 16), as well as all that are wicked (Psalms 17:9-10; 73:8-9). The apostle Paul classifies the proud and the boasters in the same category as the haters of God (Romans 1:30). It is then obvious that the persistent habit of self-boasting is a sure mark of the unregenerate person. Hence, no child of God should indulge in it.

Self-boasting is a sin that affects people of all ages – children, youths and adults alike. The book of Proverbs cautions us against boastful speech. It is depicted as foolish utterances of an egoistic person, which will surely lead him to his own dishonour. The overall perception about boasting that the wisdom of Proverbs gives, is that it is not only unwise but also destructive. Self-exaltation will not lead to real, lasting excellency or advantage. So, God’s people are exhorted to avoid all forms of prideful talk. Consider the following admonitions from the book of Proverbs:

  • Do not engage in self-praise: “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips” (Proverbs 27:2). A man who praises himself is one who cannot feel happy until he hoists himself above others. That is certainly not a pretty sight. It is better that we be focused on getting our life and efforts to be praiseworthy before the Lord and His people, rather than praising ourselves. As it has been said, “Self-praise is no commendation.” To be commended by others is certainly to one’s credit and enhances one’s reputation. But to engage in self-commendation will result in one’s own hurt and disgrace! Hence, the apostle Paul also reminds us: “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth” (2 Corinthians 10:18).
  • Do not boast about tomorrow: “Boast not thyself of to morrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth” (Proverbs 27:1). A person should not praise himself concerning what he will do the next day, simply because he really has no way of knowing for sure what will happen. Never arrogantly presume the future! The apostle James highlights the folly of disregarding this truth when he admonishes those who exult in self-assured planning: “Go to now, ye that say, To day or to morrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that. But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil” (James 4:13-16). Our ignorance of tomorrow and inability to control tomorrow’s events should stop us from boasting about our future enterprises!
  • Do not boast about your unjust gains: “It is naught, it is naught, saith the buyer: but when he is gone his way, then he boasteth” (Proverbs 20:14). This verse depicts a shrewd buyer who unjustly downplays the value of a product in order to get it at a low price, and then brags about the “cheap deal” that he has managed to “snatch” out of the seller. However, God’s children ought to be reminded that all our business dealings and affairs of life should display the glory of our heavenly Father rather than material glory. Rather than profit-making, our lives and activities should manifest fairness, equity, justice, righteousness, grace and compassion. Our desire must be singularly for divine virtues and glory, instead of material wealth and its accompanying glamour!
  • Do not boastfully speak of a gift not given yet: “Whoso boasteth himself of a false gift is like clouds and wind without rain” (Proverbs 25:14). “False gifts” are gifts promised but not given. False promises of gifts are truly like clouds without rain which leave many eager and expectant farmers devastated. What great disappointment and distress false promises have inflicted on others! We must not boast of what we have promised, which remains an empty promise until it is delivered! In other words, we should not boast of a promise that we have not made good yet. Neither should we make any promise if we know we cannot follow through its delivery.

From the above selected admonitions from Proverbs, God’s people indeed must beware of and avoid all forms of boastful speech. Finally, we must also realise that prideful speech leads to violence and punishment: “In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride” (Proverbs 14:3a). The foolish talk of a person, who is arrogant, hardened and thick-headed in his ways, results in him being punished with a rod. Unguarded words of arrogance can also engender violence, and can act as “a rod” hurting others. So, let us guard our speech, and let it be rid of a self-exalting spirit that troubles others and ourselves.

Gethsemane Bible-Presbyterian Church adheres to the system of faith commonly known as the “Reformed Faith” as expressed in the Westminster Confession of Faith together with the Larger and Shorter Catechisms.
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