In short, boasting = showing off, bragging, blowing your own trumpet.
The stark reality is that without God, we can’t do anything. Oh, we can ‘do’ plenty of things, of course, in fact we can live our whole lives without involving Him at all. I certainly tried it. Didn’t work out so well for me. Big difference when I realised that if I let Him guide me, actually listen to what He is trying to tell me, then life goes a whole lot better.
Anything I do, any talents and gifts and ability I use in my life, it all comes from God. Writing, encouraging, working, parenting, running, singing, organising a household – I only have the ability to do all of this because it’s how God created me, it’s what He made me to do, and so all the credit goes to Him, not me. I can claim the glory for it all, but it would be an empty boast, because I know my abilities and strength don’t come from me, but from my God who loves me. It would be like taking credit for something someone else did, claiming someone else’s work as my own.
In the classic ‘Streams in the Desert’ devotional, L. B. Cowan writes about the Israelites journey in trusting God’s leading, and what they went through and went without to be more like Him.
“This is the description of those throughout the ages who ‘follow the Lamb wherever he goes’ (Rev 14:4). If they had chosen selfishly for themselves or if their friends had chosen for them, they would have made other choices. Their lives would have shone more brightly here on earth but less gloriously in His kingdom”.
It is easy to promote ourselves and what we can do, but if we don’t acknowledge the source of our abilities, it’s an empty satisfaction. When we love, we don’t claim glory for ourselves, we give credit where credit’s due – to God, to our spouse, kids, friends, whomever. We can, however, boast in the cross, and in God, who is the One who gives us all the good things we have.