The Apostle Paul’s comments about boasting are often looked at with curiosity, even a bit of amusement, because he is so forthright about his past. Usually the word boasting is reserved for someone who we are weary of and whose head seems a little too large for their hat. The truth is, most people boast all the time by different names. We call it a mission report, a fund-raising letter, or a Facebook post.
Before going as a church planter in the Middle East, I was a traveling revivalist preacher. My main subject was to “boast” about different witnessing exploits--all for the worthy purpose of training others to win people to Christ. Oddly, once in my host country the witnessing stories I began sharing no longer appeared “heroic.” In fact, they were terribly misunderstood, even despised! What had been “boasting” in one culture was now unimportant, unpopular and certainly not celebrated. My new friends asked me what I had accomplished in my life. From my education, to my work, to my exploits, I really had little to say that they valued!
I learned an important lesson: God’s enjoyment is to be the only motive behind everything I do. This comes with a similar and parallel realization: My enjoyment must be anchored in God’s accomplishments.
This perspective has relieved me of boasting at all!
As a tentmaker in the Middle East I’ve learned that seasons can pass when witnessing stories are few and far between. I have seen months go by where conversations were dry and the spiritual interest of those around me felt like zero.
I’ve learned that’s OK.
I am living for God’s enjoyment. He is in charge of orchestrating my encounters. I will be dutiful, fervent, faithful, and trusting that the results are His to shape.
Long ago I read a few pages from a book by Calvin Miller that spoke to me. He tells the story of a young, first-century, fictional Christian woman named Helena who zealously prayed for cripples and lepers to be healed in the name of Jesus. Another Christian chided her, “But what if the people aren’t healed?” Undaunted, she cheerfully replied, “That’s God’s business. Jesus asked me to lay hands on the sick and pray, and that’s what I am doing.”
I want to be going about doing God’s business. And if it’s His, I can rest assured He’s following my progress and enjoying working ahead, behind, and alongside of me for His success.
Simple obedience is better than stunning results, because “results” are not always what they seem. We can do things in our humanness that make for nice Facebook posts, Adventist Review articles, or sermon illustrations, but their lasting value is nominal.
However, when our pleasure is in making certain God is enjoying the course of our daily work, then the compounding result is itself spiritual business. The snowball effect of duty equals character. Scripture tells us that God enjoys character, and then He boasts, “Have you seen my servant Job?”
Is it possible that you could be God’s enjoyment in the Middle East? Has the universe heard Him boast upon your name? --BP