Dad graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary after he completed his 4-year college degree in business. At seminary, he completed another 4 years of study, earning a Masters of Theology (THM) in 3 ½ years. It is a VERY hard program that includes learning Greek and Hebrew among other things. Most people don’t know this. He never mentions it. What he does do is use the gifts and incredible knowledge God gave him in this area for the good of our family and the good of others to God’s glory. Compare Dad to Muhammed Ali, one of the greatest boxers ever, who was known for announcing “I am the greatest” on many occasions. People make choices as to whether to boast about themselves or not.
Muhammed Ali commended himself publicly and had a lot of people pat him on the back and confirm how great he was. Not too many people come up to dad and pat him on the back telling him how great he is. But dad will one day get a great commendation, and it is the commendation that will count in the end. It is a commendation from God for using the gifts and talents God gave him in the best way possible to further God’s kingdom. In fact, you 3 are evidence of this. He has used his time, money, and theological training to train you in the Lord and provide for you as a godly father.
2 Corinthians tells us that it is not the person who commends himself that matters-but the one who God commends. In the Philips translation, he puts it: It is not self-commendation that matters, it is winning the approval of God.
We live in a world where at this point, you are actually encouraged to commend yourself. You are to post the awards you have received. Put a bumper sticker on your car if your kids make the honor roll. Point to yourself in your athletic game if you make a great play and make sure that everyone claps for you because you are so great. This is not the way of a believer. This is the clear opposite to what God encourages us to do. He tells us “not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you, must be your servant.” (Matt. 20:26). Proverbs reminds us that we should let another praise us, and not our own mouth. (Prov. 27:2)
While it is very tempting to tell others how great we are, we instead, would be far better off, making sure we live by God’s standards of approval. Our lives should be filled with God-pleasing activities. We should be in the habit of making decisions based on the question: Does God approve of this? We can assess how we are doing in this area by our use of the word “I” in our conversations with others? If we use it a lot, it could be evidence that we are in the habit of commending ourselves. All the likes, stars, hearts, follows, and audience clapping will not count for anything in the final day, no matter who we are. God approves of us through the “filter” of the blood of Christ, and that is the only approval that will ever matter!