I have noticed over the years in dealing with people face to face and on social media, that there are those who enjoy bragging about themselves and those who do not. Those who brag about themselves fall into two categories; the outright braggarts and the “humblebraggers.” The difference between the two is this: the outright braggarts are just that, those who loudly proclaim their achievements for all of the world to see. Those who are considered “humblebraggers,” however, brag on themselves but try to twist their words to make others think they are being modest and humble. I actually see more “humblebrags” on social media since I can read about the daily lives of many people in one sitting, but it also occurs in the real world, too.
Bragging about your achievements in life is spoken against in the Bible. Jeremiah 9:23 states: “Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise [man] glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty [man] glory in his might, let not the rich [man] glory in his riches:” A person who brags about his or herself is not giving credit to God, without Whom he or she could do nothing. By bragging, a person is showing himself to be prideful, which is also condemned in the Bible. “Every one [that is] proud in heart [is] an abomination to the LORD: [though] hand [join] in hand, he shall not be unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5). When someone brags, it is also a turnoff to others.
Most people know that bragging shouldn’t be done, which is why “humblebragging” is much more common. The term “humblebragging” according to the Urban Dictionary means “to say in a covert yet boastful manner. To show off with indirect phrasing.” Those who “humblebrag” most likely know that bragging is wrong, and that it is not accepted by others. Therefore, they try to sound humble while being boastful. An example of this could be, “I can’t believe I got the highest score on that test! That test must have been so easy a monkey could have passed it!” Some people like to boast about themselves but don’t want others to think that this is what they are doing.
The most common form of “humblebragging” that I see is when someone is telling others about someone else bragging on them. I see this most often on social media. An example of this is when someone says something like; “I got the sweetest letter from Susie that says that I am the best person in the world! Susie is so sweet!” It is good that Susie gave this person a nice letter, and it is nice of the person to praise Susie for writing the letter, but it would be better, however, if the contents of the letter were told to others by Susie herself rather than by the person that the praise is given to. This sends the message to others that the person talking about the letter is trying to brag and appear humble all at the same time. Most people are not tricked by this tactic. A truly humble person would not broadcast to others about the praise given to them. “A man's pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.” (Proverbs 29:23). I know that it makes all of us feel good to be praised by others, and to achieve good things in life, however we must still not be boastful. “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips”(Proverbs 27:2).
Speaking of the good things we have achieved while giving God all of the credit is acceptable. It is when we speak highly of ourselves as if we achieved something on our own without God’s help that is not acceptable. Without God, we are nothing, and if we boast of the good opportunities we are given without giving God the credit, then we are exalting ourselves above God. Whether you are trying to hide the fact that you are bragging on yourself from others or not, you will not be able to hide your vanity and pride from God.
Both outright bragging and humblebragging can hurt a person’s chances of growing as a Christian, and they also can place stumbling block before others. Christians that want to brag about all of the good things they have done without giving God the credit can inspire an attitude of competition among fellow Christians. Of course, the person doing the bragging cannot control what others think, but talking in person or on social media about how many times he or she has been given this or that opportunity or praise from others can cause other Christians to feel not as encouraged and may tempt them to become jealous. Therefore, it is always best to give God ALL the credit for your blessings in life, and to not be tempted to exalt oneself in a prideful manner. If you are not willing to give your Creator the credit for all the good things you have been able to do in life, then you should not mention them at all. It is always best to let someone else praise you, rather than yourself. “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips” (Proverbs 27:2).
It is acceptable to talk about the good things we have done when faced with opposition from others. When someone falsely accuses us of some wrongdoing, we must defend our reputation as Paul did in II Corinthians. “I say again, Let no man think me a fool; if otherwise, yet as a fool receive me, that I may boast myself a little” (II Corinthians 11:16). He goes on to talk about the hardships he has suffered and the good things he has done for the Cause of Christ. Defending one’s honor and reputation helps a Christian be better able to teach others because other people will be more likely to listen to what is being said by a person who practices what they preach instead of hypocrisy.
We, as Christians, should be ever mindful that all good things that we have are given to us from God. All that we are is due to our God. By bragging about ourselves, either blatantly or covertly, we are saying that we are greater than God, and that we do not need Him to succeed in life. This is not true, and we should come to Him with a humble heart and be thankful for all of the blessings He has bestowed upon us. Therefore, let’s be sure to focus more on God’s approval than man’s approval, and not fall into the trap of trying to appear modest while exalting ourselves in front of others. Other people know when this is being done, even though they may not admit it to you. Most importantly, God knows when we are bragging about ourselves to others. “[Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.” (Philippians 2:3).