Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other. For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not? 1 Corinthians 4:6-7.
It is the nature of humankind to revel in our own accomplishments. We take pride in the titles we accumulate at work like vice president, partner, or director. We may brag about the money we have made or the exotic trips we have taken. We may flout our academic degrees or the awards, medals, or trophies we have won.
All of these things of which we are so proud may be good things indeed. Lofty titles at work may be an indication of having been faithful in past responsibilities. Wealth of money or experiences may be (though is not always) an indicator of good stewardship. Our other achievements may be indicative of contributions we made to important causes or events.
Our problem may not be in seeing these as good but in seeing them as somehow our own.
I have known people who worked harder than I ever have for many years longer than me but who were never rewarded with important sounding titles. There are whole people groups in the world who have stewarded there resources with extreme fastidiousness and yet remain in poverty. Some people have saved 100’s of lives at great risk to themselves, and never been recognized for it.
Nothing that we have accomplished would be available to us but for the grace of God. It was all received from God, both the opportunity for the accomplishment and the rewards or recognition that followed its completion.
This is true even in the spiritual realm. Paul’s words might be directly applied to scriptural knowledge, holy wisdom, and theological understanding. If you are blessed with each of those, I promise none of them came to you by your own hand.
Rather than reveling in our own accomplishments and celebrating our own aggrandizement, let’s praise the God who gifts all good things to us and glory in His mercy.