Don't apologize for your blessings

Sunday, January 30, 2011

I often hear people say "I'm surprised I finally finished college, I'm certainly not that smart." Or people voice that they did not deserve the promotion they received or the spouse they enjoy. They dislike appearing superior to others, so they downplay their accomplishments and apologize for their possessions, trying to epitomize humility and meekness. You wonder why one feels he must conceal God's blessings.

As I grew up, I learned to be modest concerning my possessions and accomplishments. You didn't brag on what you achieved, how you looked or what you accumulated or attained. Good manners told you to hide your commendable attributes so you wouldn't seem better than others. If you were successful and reached enviable heights, you often visibly underrated yourself and your accomplishments so you'd fit in. People wouldn't think you were putting on airs. Although those who regarded your accomplishments and laudable talents with disdain were usually envious, you wanted their approval.

Proverbs 27:2 --"Let another man praise you, and not your own mouth" -- was ingrained in me. Being raised under the influence of my staunch Pentecostal Christian grandmother and my Catholic father, I was subjected to lots of should dos and ought-nots. Paul wrote in Corinthians 13 that "love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude" and so on. I heard such references concerning boasting or trumpeting your accomplishments. When I considered the passage in Proverbs saying "Let another man praise you, not yourself," I often wondered "What if no one notices and tells others what I can do?" It was often difficult to keep silent, but I disliked being thought a braggart.

As I matured, I realized there were other Bible scriptures that took a different slant on what boasting might be that I should research. One was that "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above and comes down from the Father." (James 1:17)

I also became familiar with the gifts of the Holy Spirit and especially Paul's coverage of them in Corinthians 12:4-12. He spoke about the different gifts that people receive such as the gift of healing, the gift of wisdom and a multitude of others.

Regardless of what those gifts are, they all come from the same spirit and from the same God. These gifts are to be sought after and commended because the world has need of all of them.

So rather than concealing our talents, skills and gifts, I concluded that everything good is a blessing from God and I vowed to never submerge or devalue my gifts or talents again. To do so is to say that God made a mistake and we should mask or be ashamed to admit we are skilled and talented in particular areas.

If we boast in a modest fashion giving the credit to God, we are bringing glory to God -- giving our maker the praise for what we have been given. In other words, we're admitting that we would have nothing without God's generosity. Everything is a blessing from him, including our very existence.

Be proud to drive that new car you bought with capital you made. God gave you the skills necessary to work and receive a salary, or he gifted you in other ways. If you can sing well or play a musical instrument, let it be known. Enjoy your beautiful home! To fear using or enjoying what you have because of what other people will think or say is a misconception showing a lack of faith in God's goodness. It's when you take the credit for what you've been given that you've misinformed others.

So go forth, serve others and use your talents and gifts in the world. Enjoy what you have, giving the glory to God. But don't apologize for those blessings.

Ellen Shuck holds degrees in psychology, religious education and spiritual direction and provides spiritual direction to people at her office.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: