It still amazes me how scriptures can “say” different things at different times. When I have read this passage before I have focused on the part that I believe we are all familiar with: all have fallen short. But today I noticed something different, something so simple that I was amazed I had not noticed it before; how this section of verses that we are all so familiar with interacts with Paul’s statements about boasting.
Paul says that faith excludes boating. For me this raises two issues— what constitutes boasting, and why is boasting excluded by faith. The first issue, though easy for me to answer on a mental level, is very convicting. Of course, boasting can be very blatant, it can indeed, be so over-the-top that it is easy to see why boasting is not able to be part of the Christian life. I don’t have a problem accepting that. But then there are the smaller forms of boasting, the ones that seem innocent enough and that, really, we only design to gain enough attention to get a small pat on the back because they make us feel stronger. I didn’t really understand why these small forms of boasting would be excluded from a life of faith, but then again I did in a way. When we try to gain those instances of attention we shift focus away from God, and that is when the second issue comes up; if we are being faithful we want the focus to be on God, and not on ourselves. The issue then becomes how to ensure that we direct attention to God rather than ourselves.
Paul tells us that all have fallen short of the glory of God. Although this might seem to be an obvious statement, and one that we are all acutely aware of, it is also a fact that can help us draw attention to God. If we are conscious of the fact that we are not at the same level as God we cannot be boastful; if we know that everything we do is, in some way, because of Him we will draw others to him.
May we all be able to do so.