Really, What Do We Have To Be So Stinkin’ Proud Of?

…What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?  1 Corinthians 4:7

It seems like the Corinthians forgot a very important principle: If we have something, it means someone gave it to us.

If there’s food on your table, it didn’t just magically appear there, it’s because Jesus gave it to you.  ”No you see, Mark, I bought that food with my hard earned money I get paid by going to my job every day.”

But who put you in a nation where you could get that job? And who gave you the talent to do that job?  Who put you in a country where you could be educated for that job?  Keep tracing it back. Ultimately you’ll see that your talents, your job, your money, and yes, the very food on your table is a gift from God.

If you’re saved, it’s because God chose you before the foundation of the earth, then Jesus purchased your salvation with his blood. Then he sent someone to you to share the gospel with you. Then he opened your ears and heart and granted you faith and repentance.

We don’t want to make the same mistake the Corinthians made and forget where our gifts come from. So let’s remember if we have:

  • Spiritual gifts
  • Natural abilities
  • Success
  • Health
  • Strength
  • Intelligence
  • A good church
  • Spiritual knowledge
  • Friends
  • A loving spouse
  • Children
  • A sense of humor
  • Wealth
  • A home or apartment
  • You get the idea…..

We’ve received them.  They didn’t originate with us.  Therefore we have no reason to be proud of our gifts. But we have every reason to glorify God.  So what spiritual gifts do you have?  Thank God for them today.

Not to us, O LORD, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness!  Psalm 115:1

  • photini

    John Climacus in the chapter On Pride (step 23) in The Ladder of Divine Ascent says:

    …."it is sheer lunacy to imagine that one has deserved the gifts of God. You may be proud only of the achievements you had before the time of your birth. But anything after that, indeed the birth itself, is a gift from God. You may claim only the virtues in you that are there independently of your mind, for you mind was bestowed on you by God. And you may claim only those victories you achieved independently of the body, for the body is not yours but a work of God."

    He begins the chapter with
    "Pride is a denial of God, an invention of the devil, contempt for men. It is the mother of condemnation, the offspring of praise, a sign of hardness. It is a flight from God's help, the harbinger of madness, the author of downfall. It is the … source of anger, the gateway of hypocracy. …the source if hardheartedness … the denial of compassion … a cruel judge …. The foe of God. The root of blasphemy.

    …This passion often draws strength initially fomr the gicing of thanks, and at first it doesn not shamelessly urge us to renounce God. I have seen people who speak aloud their thanks to God but who in their hearts are glorifying themselves, something demonstrated by that Pharisee with his "O God, I thank you" (Luke 18:11)

    This is a great book and I highly recommend it! It is long and sometimes hard to read since it was written for monastics in the 6-7th century. A group of us have been meeting weekly to read part and discuss it for over a year. There are 30 steps on the ladder, but some steps are many pages long and we need to take it in small bits to comprehend what John is saying. We are on Step 26 and hope to finish the book in 2013!

    You can find it here: http://www.amazon.com/John-Climacus-Classics-West

    A simpler, shorter book for laypeople is Ascending the Heights by Fr. John Mack. Sadly, it is no longer in print, but you can find it (for a price) at places like amazon, alibris, and abebooks.

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hey photini, Thanks for adding these comments. I especially liked the second paragraph!

  • Elaine

    Thanks, Mark! I appreciate the encouragement and the reminder.

    It is so easy to slip into toddler mode and to think everything I have is mine. The Word reminds me it has all come from a loving Father who gives lavishly.

  • Mark Altrogge

    Hi Elaine, I like this – "toddler mode" – that's funny – how often we slip into it!

  • Raissa

    Hi, Mark. I always read what you write and I usually like your texts. Today, it wasn't different. Here there's a good text again. But, when I was reading I had been thinking and I have a doubt now. I don't wanna create a conflict, it's really a sincere doubt that I decided to say using the comments because I see you always answering everybody.
    So, you said that we don't deserve anything and all we have is a gift from God. I totally agree. After that, you talk that we should thanks God for the the food, job, wealth, etc. But, what about those people who doesn't have food, job and wealth? We don't deserve this gifts more than those people. So, I start to think: why me and not another person? We are equally sinners, but I'm the one who have food at home.
    Maybe you've already talked about it in another text, so, if you could send to me something about it I'll be very thankful.
    Thank you so much for your attention.

    Ps.: If there's some wrong word or expression, I really sorry. But, English isn't my native language :/

  • Mark Altrogge

    Hi Raissa, thank you for your kind words and your excellent question. you are right – we certainly are equally sinners and don't deserve food, jobs, wealth etc. more than those who don't have them. in fact that should make us even more grateful. And we should also do all we can to be kind to those who have less and bless them and help them if we can. Jesus said to him who has been given much much will be required, so those of us who have been blessed should try to bless those with less.

    Even those who have very little can and often do still give thanks to God. I have had the opportunity to meet some Christians who were poor and they were sharing their food with me and they were cheerful and grateful to God. it made me want to be even more thankful. It was humbling for me to see how thankful they were even in poverty.

    Again thank you for your great question and thanks for your encouragement!

  • Raissa

    Hi, Mark, thank you for the answer. It was very enlightening to me this idea of: "who has been given much much will be required". This open our eyes to things that we usually don't see/do. Jesus has preached for the people, but he also has given bread and fish. Spiritual food isn't always enough, and Jesus knew that and He tried to pass this to us.
    After I read your answer I was thinking about the fallen world where we live. Because when I read the text yesterday I thought: there's poor people and I'm kinda privileged, so, there's something wrong. God is equal for everybody, isn't? But if we live in a fallen world, this means that men build this world and this world is built in the middle of several inequalities. God can changes this, He is almighty, but we just gonna find perfection in the heaven. But, while we are in the Earth what we have to do is seek God, receive His gifts and find a way to pass all we has received for the neighbor.
    Well, I've talked a lot and I even don't know if what I've said is correct.

    Ultimately, thank you for the attention again, your answer has very enlightening to me :)

    • Mark Altrogge

      Hi again Raissa, you are right – while we are in the earth what we have to do is love God, receive his gifts and seek to love our neighbors as ourselves – this includes seeking to do good to everyone we can, especially those who are of the household of faith (Galatians).