Am I Jealous or Are You Bragging?

This holiday season brings lots of Christmas cards, photos and family updates in our mailboxes. What I would like to zero in on in this little discussion; at least I hope it will be a discussion, with you providing some back and forth; are the family updates. There are times when I have read them and cannot help but think the writer is bragging. I am not sure if this is true in any or all of the cases that I have felt this or that this is something in me; a reaction to them as I compare myself, perhaps, and a feeling that I somehow fall short. So, how does one sort out such complexities? When is the author bragging? What are the clues? And when is the reader being oversensitive and, may I say, a tad jealous? How do you discern between the two?

I put myself in a precarious situation with this blog post since at least one of my readers is one who has sent a Christmas letter updating us on the family (Note to that person: I don't think I ever thought of you as bragging in such a letter). But for the sake of argument, how would this reader now discern if they did anything wrong, i.e. bragged? How could this individual have written their update any differently? If someone graduated with honors, as a child or grandchild of the writer, should that information be suppressed so as not to appear or actually be guilty of bragging? Can I be honest with you and tell you that I am at a loss as to how to answer those questions?

I think it best to examine my own heart. Why do I feel that way when reading some of these updates? Some who wrote them, I suspect, may be tempted to pride but does that mean they gave in this time? I know that one of my weaknesses is a sense of inadequacy that crops up more times than I would like to admit. Wouldn’t it be far more likely, and fair, to blame my own struggle than another’s? I think so. Added to this is my sense that I have two options here: 1) to believe the best about the writer no matter how I am feeling or 2) believe the worst. If I choose number one, I err on the side of giving the benefit of the doubt. However, if I choose the second, I may err on the side of sinning against my brother or sister in Christ. I think I prefer the previous to the latter.

That leaves me to address my friends who are authors of Christmas letters. Should you change what you are doing? Cross me off of your list of recipients, perhaps? Maybe to the first, definitely not to the second, would be my reply. Do as I am doing here. Give the benefit of the doubt to others but check your own motives and heart. If we all do that, aren’t we the better for it? And don’t be shy about letting me know about that winning touchdown, okay?

Some Scripture that may prove helpful:

You shall not covet. Exodus 20:17

For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within and defile a man (Mark 7:21-23 NKJV).

Let another man praise you and not your own mouth . . . (Prov. 27:2 NKJV).

Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain . . . (2 Cor. 9:3 NKJV).

Render to all their due, taxes to whom taxes are due, custom to whom custom, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor (Romans 13:7 NKJV).

Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion (Romans 12:15-16 NKJV).

For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life to that now is and of that which is to come (1 Tim. 4:8 NKJV).

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown (1 Cor. 9:24-25 NKJV).

But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty, and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God – and righteousness and sanctification and redemption – that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the LORD (1 Cor. 1:27-31 NKJV).”

Be diligent (Study in KJV) to show yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing (handling) the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 NKJV).

But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful for the Master, prepared for every good work (2 Tim. 2:20 NKJV).

I used my Maxwell Leadership Bible in the NKJV for this research.

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