When it comes down to being known by people (whether they be family, friends, or acquaintances), what kind of testimony are you leaving behind with them? Who is being put on display? Christ, or the person that should’ve been crucified with Christ?
The apostle Paul opens up the third chapter brushing on this topic in the first few verses…
1 Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you?2 Corinthians 3 King James Bible
2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:
3 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.
What is Paul Saying?
Paul was referring to his ministry above, and his lack of needing to have letters of recommendation sent before his arrival.
His actions, words, deeds, and results, were all evident within those he ministered to. Even still, not so much what Paul was doing, but rather, what the Father was doing through Paul in Christ.
This is why he referred the readers of this letter (the Corinthians) as his epistles. What the Lord put on Paul’s heart to preach, became written in the hearts of those who heard it.
By anyone that could observe these folks from outside the church, they’d see the evidence by the change, or by the conduct, of those who received the Word of the Lord- having it been written on the tablets of their heart, and pushing through into their daily lives.
Do we Commend Ourselves?
When is it right or wrong to commend ourselves?
Paul gave mention of not having to commend himself, but he also brought up that others do commend themselves. He never says that they were wrong for doing so, but simply stated that he didn’t have to.
My opinion on when it’s right or wrong to do so hinges on two things…
- What’s the intent?
- Is it the truth?
Would we be commending ourselves for personal gratification or other prideful reasons? Are we being appropriate and honest about the things that we’d be saying or promoting about ourselves?
No real Advantage to Lies
There are several different areas in life where it’s required that we commend ourselves. Applications and resumes are a good example. Being dishonest on either of those rarely end well, and when you’re found out, your name goes in the tank.
Proverbs 22: King James Bible
1 A good name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold.
Proverbs tells us that a good name is something to work toward and is extremely valuable. Lies in order to make us appear smarter, more experienced, stronger, more holy, or bigger and better than we truly are, will always be found out. This is the fastest way to tarnish anyone’s good name.
When it comes to being known, a lying tongue or lies that you’ve written on an application about yourself, is a surefire way to become known as anything other than what you’d desire. Being honest about yourself and your capabilities are paramount as it relates to being known.
What’s your Intention?
What are your intentions when it comes to the things you have to say about yourself? Even if it’s the truth, why are you letting these kinds of things be known to others?
In my opinion, Kenny Rogers had this figured out in a sense when he sings about knowing when to hold’em and when to fold’em. Sometimes we commend ourselves because it’s appropriate to do so, but when we do it at times or for reasons that are inappropriate, well, that’s exactly how it comes across- inappropriate.
There’s an abbreviated phrase that I picked up somewhere (probably from work), and it is: T.M.I. = Too Much Information.
Proverbs 10: King James Bible
19 In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips is wise.
I’ve known several people throughout my lifetime, that are either insecure, or need so desperately for others to think of them a certain way, that the’d drive you crazy- even if they’re telling the truth about themselves!
I’m not referring to people simply talking about themselves or what they can do, but people who have to make sure you know how much better they are at certain things than anyone else, almost every time they converse with you…That kind of thing.
Pride is the first thing that comes to mind, and yes, pride is often why people behave like that. But not always. Everyone’s different, and sometimes it isn’t a matter of pride, but a complex set of deep rooted issues involving a need for being accepted.
In Danger of Boasting
The Bible warns against us boasting of ourselves. In fact, it says not to do so.
Proverbs 27: King James Bible
1 Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.
James 4: King James Bible
10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
Every situation is different, and there’s no “one size fits all” rule of thumb that we can use to determine what we should forward about ourselves to others and when.
- Simply stay mindful of whether or not what comes out of our mouths is the truth
- Observe whether or not what we are saying benefits someone other than ourselves
- If we’re mindful of whether or not it is an appropriate time to commend ourselves
These three things to bear in mind will make us better able to stay out of the “boasting” department.
Even a fool is deemed wise when he keeps his mouth shut. His foolishness isn’t discovered until he opens his mouth.
Proverbs 17: King James Bible
28 Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: and he that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.
Proverbs 14: King James Bible
3 In the mouth of the foolish is a rod of pride: but the lips of the wise shall preserve them.
As I’ve said in other places: A strong man doesn’t need to boast or commend himself of his strength, because it is visible through either his own appearance or by his deeds. A guy that can pick up a car doesn’t have to tell anyone that he’s strong.
A holy person doesn’t need to commend himself on his holiness, as it is seen through how he lives, what he’ll do and not do, etc…
Paul didn’t need to commend himself, because his works did the commending on his behalf. The works that remained on the hearts of those who he ministered to, did all the commending for him.
Christ Jesus did not boast of himself while he walked among mankind as a man, though he would have had more right to do so than anyone else. He commended the Father rather than himself, and his works did all the commending for him through those who were there to bear witness to his word and deeds.
John 8: King James Bible
54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: 55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
Like all things that come up for debate: If Jesus didn’t behave that way, how could we justify doing it ourselves?
His example is there, and if examined, can show us how to earn a good name without ever opening our mouths about ourselves.
Just as Jesus did it, just as Paul did it, and just as the rest of the disciples did it.
Truthfully – Honestly – Humbly – Charitably – Gracefully – Righteously – Lovingly
Not necessarily in that particular order.
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- Daily Inspiration from Proverbs 12 P.132 – Commendable Reputation
- Daily Inspiration from Proverbs 12 P.139 – Blabber Mouth
- Daily Inspiration from Proverbs 8 P.71 – Spirit of Truth
- Daily Inspiration from Proverbs 25 P. 381 – Deceitful
- Daily Inspiration from Proverbs 14 P.161 – Prideful Mouth