The Folly of Self-Praise
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It is not good to eat much honey, nor is it glory to search out one's own glory. (Prov. 25:27)
Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. (Prov. 27:2)
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As surely as God made man with a stomach, He also made him with an ego. And egos, like stomachs, desire to be satisfied. The food that egos thrive on, of course, is praise. But the temptation to overindulge this emotional need is just as great as the physical, and some people pig out on a form of adulation that is almost inexhaustible: praise of self.
In its crudest form, self-praise manifests itself in open bragging. Most of us realize the tactlessness of such behavior, so we seek glory in more subtle ways. We fish for compliments using loaded questions; or we deftly steer conversations toward our accomplishments; or we lobby for positions of prominence where our talents can be displayed for all to see. We might be surprised to know the full extent to which this craving for attention influences our behavior.
Whatever device we use, such self-glorification hurts the perpetrator. Sooner or later, the self-promoter will over-extend himself and end up looking foolish. Peter’s loud boast of faithfulness came back to haunt him following his denial of the Lord (Matt. 26:35, 69-75). Jesus taught His disciples not to seek the best seat at a feast, lest they be bumped down to a lower seat, "then you begin with shame to take the lowest place” (Lk. 14:7-11). If we are as great as we think we are, others will be able to see it without any advertising from us. And if we are not as great as we think we are--which is a very real possibility--we do ourselves a favor by staying quiet and laying low.
Self-glorification also damages one’s influence with others. A characteristic of love is that it "does not parade itself” (1 Cor. 13:4). The implication in this definition is that one who brags on himself is not considerate of the feelings of others. By definition, trying to make oneself look big is just another way of making others look small. That is why no one likes a braggart; whether he intends to or not, he is in the business of running down other people. If we truly have the interests of others at heart, humility demands that we seek to lower ourselves and exalt others (Rom. 12:16; Phil. 2:3-4).
We must learn to do our jobs quietly to the best of our ability, whether or not others applaud our efforts. We should look forward to that day when "each one's praise will come from God" (1 Cor. 4:5). Then we will have all the praise our hearts desire, from the only One whose praise matters.