Do Not Praise Yourself (Or: Nobody Likes A Bragger)

Proverbs (Geneva Commentaries) I don’t remember if it was a P.E. coach I had in high school or my mom or a good friend, but someone once told me “Nobody likes a bragger.”  There is quite a bit of truth in that phrase!  Scripture puts it this way: “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; A stranger, and not your own lips” (Prov. 27:2 NASB).  Clement said it like this: “Let not the humble bear testimony to himself, but leave witness to be borne to him by another” (1 Clement 38).  Charles Bridges, in his commentary on Proverbs 27:2, wrote the following (I’ve edited and summarized it a bit).

“One expositor said ‘Praise is a beautiful garment.  But though you yourself wear it, another must put it on you, or else it will never sit well with you.  Praise is sweet music, but it is never tuneable in your own mouth.  If it comes from the mouth of another, it sounds very good in the ears of all that hear it.  Praise is a rich treasure, but it will never make you rich, unless another speak it of you.’”

“Indeed, nothing so degrades a man with his fellow humans, as setting out his own praise.  For though every man is his own flatterer (Prov 20:6), men usually know how to estimate pride in others while they cherish it in themselves.  While our works should shine, see to it that we ourselves be hid.  Confess your faults to one another (James 5:16), but let someone else speak your praise.”

“Our name will lose nothing by this self-renouncing spirit.  If our own mouth be silent, another’s will be opened.  John was unworthy in his own eyes to loosen his Master’s sandal, yet did the Lord proclaim John as the greatest of all that have been born of women.”

“Self-seeking is a shameful blot upon a Christian profession.  Shall a person indeed say before God, ‘I am vile!’ and then say before people, ‘Come, see my zeal for the Lord.  Come, see how humble I am!’  Oh for the self-abased spirit of our Master – ever ready to endure reproach, but never seeking his own glory (John 5:41, 8.50).  Compare what God shows us of our own hearts in secret to how we pride ourselves in public.  Surely our lack of humility should give us the deepest humility!”

Charles Bridges, Proverbs, p. 502-3.

shane lems

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