Humble Glorying (2 Cor 1:12-14)

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward. . . . As also ye have acknowledged us in part, that we are your rejoicing, even as ye also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (2 Corinthians 1:12, 14, KJV)

I heard a preacher one time state the problem of sin is when you put an “I” between “s” and “n.” His point was that the problem of sin is when people prioritize themselves. He went on to state that if some people use “I” in their conversation and correspondence as the principal figure, there may be an issue. While I do understand the preacher’s main point, I found it impossible to stop using “I” when I spoke about something I experienced. Yet, I have run into people who talk about themselves in such a way as to boast about themselves, to the point of making one nauseous.

I ran this experiment once in an adult Sunday school class. I began the lesson by glorying in all my great attributes. Then I did the same in my great accomplishments. After I finished I asked the group what they thought. One man stated that he wanted to punch me in the mouth. Obviously, I went over the top.

The question that we must address is this. Is it alright to boast or glory in oneself or not? If this glorying is bad, then we must repent from it. However, might there be occasions when such glorying is permissible? If so, what are they and what differentiates proper glorying from improper glorying?

This passage is interesting since Paul stated, “For our rejoicing is this.” The word translated “rejoicing,” kauchesis, can also be translated as boasting, as in the ESV, or glorying (Strong G2746). Paul is boasting or glorying? Moreover, in verse 14, indicates that “in the day of the Lord Jesus” the church will “rejoice,” kauchema, that is be boasting (Strong G2745) of Paul and his team and that he will be doing the same of them.

So, should we boast or glory? It seems that from Paul’s example, it must be ok. Yet, if we look deeper into what stated, we can set some parameters for proper glorying. He explained that the reason for this glorying was that in their work they behaved “in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God.” From his words, we see that it is an issue of the heart. Paul was not boasting for personal glory. He stated that he and the team behaved with “simplicity,” hagiotes, that is sanctity (Strong G41). They endeavored to act with holiness and moral purity (Webster) and “godly sincerity” They were not entangled with worldliness. There was a sense of godly purity seen in them.

Paul further explained, “not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world.” He and the team did not operate by the flesh, but by God’s grace. Here, he stated that they lived, and served correctly by God’s grace alone. He indicated that they did not do what they did in the strength of their own flesh. On the contrary, what they accomplished was by God’s manifest grace alone. They were glorying in what God had done in them, with them, and through them.

You see, it is quite alright to rejoice in the great things that God has done in us. However, we must remember that it is all due to Him who gives us the ability and who works to make our light shine in the world. In this way, there is a humble glorying. It is not to elevate ourselves or to receive glory from others, but to He who is worthy may receive all glory, honor, and praise.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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