Boasting can be an attempt to proclaim one’s own superiority. It can be a tool to exercise power over others. By continually pointing to your own achievements, possessions and abilities you perhaps can make others admire and respect you. You per chance discourage any questioning of your authority.
Bible readers know that the disciples of Jesus at times were discussing who was greatest among them. Jesus did not really like this demeanour. Jesus said: “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3/KJV). Spiritual greatness comes by humbly trusting and honouring God, not by promoting self.
Not long after that the mother of two of his disciples asked him a favour. She wanted her sons to be seated on the Lord’s right and on his left, when Jesus would rule with royal authority.
Craving for position, recognition and power is one facet of human life. Jesus, however, did not encourage this among his disciples.
“But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant; even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28/KJV).
Jesus was trying to point out to his disciples that he was not going to assume earthly power. He had not come to change the political world in Israel. He was not to restore the independence and the kingdom of the Jews.
Consequently he did not then have honourable and desired positions to bestow on his friends. Rather he had been pointing out that he himself would be apprehended and executed to rise from the dead on the third day. Being his disciple could involve many difficulties.
The qualities required from those who were following Jesus were quite different from merely organising celebrations and self-aggrandisement at the court of a powerful and unchallenged monarch.
Jesus’ disciples would be rejected and persecuted. He or she would be great among the believers who would encourage others to carry on and to persevere in spite of whatever difficulties they might have to face.
Jesus taught them that mutual love was to be the distinguishing mark of his followers. “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35/KJV).
Jesus said, serving other believers, building and encouraging them was to be a mark of greatness among his followers. The disciples could only be great if they managed to help others to trust Jesus. Otherwise they would remain somewhat lonely. Being followers of a master who had been condemned and crucified was not easy. They needed to help and strengthen each other.
Today many Christian believers are facing similar circumstances. Some are a minority group, others are openly persecuted. Mutual love is required of them. Love does not boast but rather encourage.