“But ‘he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.’ For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (2 Corinthians 10:17-18).
Much as he has done throughout this letter to the Corinthian church, Paul the Apostle turned to the pages of the Old Testament to illustrate an important spiritual point. In this instance, Paul’s reference in 2 Corinthians 10:17 comes from the book of the prophet Jeremiah…
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, Let not the mighty man glory in his might, Nor let the rich man glory in his riches; But let him who glories glory in this, That he understands and knows Me, That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth. For in these I delight,’ says the Lord” (Jeremiah 9:23-24).
This concept of “self-commendation” is a theme that will emerge more fully in the following chapter. It also represents a subject that carries great relevance for modern-day readers of this passage. You see, one of the strongest emotional drives for most human beings involves the need to secure the approval of others. This desire is so strong that it may sometimes lead us to engage in various forms of self-commendation.
For instance, this desire might be expressed through the clothing we wear. The idea is simple: if we select clothes that are intended to draw the attention of others, we thus commend ourselves as objects of interest to them. This desire might also be expressed though “selfies” or social media posts that seek validation through the number of “likes,” “follows,” or positive comments we receive. A more sophisticated example might include a seemingly modest comment that is subtly intended to solicit praise for our achievements.
Before we engage in such self-promotional behaviors, we would do well to consider the reminder given to us in the passage quoted above: “It isn’t the person who promotes himself or herself who is approved but the person whom the Lord commends” (CSB). One commentary identifies the issue associated with these expressions of self-commendation with the following observation…
“When we do something well, we want to tell others and be recognized. But recognition is dangerous—it can lead to inflated pride. How much better it is to seek the praise of God rather than the praise of people. Then, when we receive praise, we will be free to give God the credit.” (1)
Nevertheless, Paul will go on to engage in a considerable amount of self-commendation over the next two chapters of 2 Corinthians. We’ll consider what he sought to achieve in charting that course next.
(1) Life Application Study Bible, 2 Corinthians 10:17-18 Copyright © 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 2004 by Tyndale House Publishers Inc., all rights reserved. Life Application® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.