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THE MOST “BRAGGED ON” PEOPLE IN THE BIBLE
Victor M. Eskew
Bragging and boasting about self is not a wise practice. In fact, it is a forbidden practice in Scriptures. It is better to let someone else bestow honor upon you. The wise writer stated: “Let another praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips” (Prov. 27:2).
There are a few instances found in God’s Word wherein individuals are bragged upon. If our readers do not like the word “bragged,” we might substitute the word ‘complimented” instead. There is one type of individual who is bragged on more than any other. These are the “givers” found in the Bible. Let’s look at several instances where high compliments are paid to those who gave.
The first example took place in the life of our Lord. On this occasion, Jesus was present in the temple. His discerning eye was watching as various individuals were casting into the treasury. One soul stood out above all the others. Jesus was so impressed that He called attention to her to His disciples. Mark records the incident for us. “And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: for all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living” (Mark 12:41-44).
Most people are impressed with individuals who contribute large dollar amounts to the coffers. That day “many that were rich cast in much.” Jesus, however, was not impressed. What stood out to Him was a poor widow who cast in two mites. Jesus said that she “cast more in” that all those wealthy individuals. The reason is because she had given all. The rich had much to give. Even after they gave, they still had much left. Not so with the widow. She gave all, “even all her living.” It is interesting that Jesus pays attention to the amount given in relation to what one has. Often those who give a small amount have given more in terms of the percentage that was given. A man who has a million dollars may contribute a thousand dollars to the treasury. The amount seems like much. Another may only contribute twenty dollars. This amount seems like so little. It may be that the person who gave twenty dollars gave more than the man who gave a thousand. Why? What if the man who gave twenty dollars only had fifty dollars to his name? His percentage was much more than the man who gave a thousand dollars. Man usually dismisses the small donor. Jesus does not. Deity acknowledges these people as the ones who often give the most.
A second example of givers who were bragged on is the Macedonians. The apostle Paul expressed a need to many of the Gentile churches. It involved relief to be given to the hurting saints in Judea, Christians who were suffering due to a famine in the land. Many churches responded to Paul’s cry. The Macedonians, however, stood out as an example to all. Paul brags on them in II Corinthians 8:1-5. “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; how that in great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”
There are many things that Paul says about these Christians that astound us. The first thing we appreciate is their personal situation. The Macedonians themselves were suffering “a great trial of affliction.” This affliction had brought many of them into a state of poverty. The second thing that we honor is their willingness to give and give liberally. Paul affirms that they gave “beyond their power.” It appears to have been so abundant that Paul did not want to accept it. He did so only after “much entreaty” from the Macedonians. A third thing that causes us to admire these generous givers is their motivation. The reason they were so liberal is because they “first gave their own selves to the Lord.” These individuals were genuine followers of God. They were true through and through. Their love and loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ caused them to have a heart of compassion and a generous pocketbook.
A third group of givers that were appreciated and bragged on were the Philippians. This church was extremely generous to the apostle Paul. They helped him on his missionary journeys several times. In his letter to them, Paul praises them and gives thanks for them. “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every pray of mine for you all making request with joy, for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now” (Phil. 1:3-5). The phrase, “fellowship in the gospel,” refers to their support of his preaching endeavors. Paul was extremely thankful for their gifts. His heart often turned heavenward on their behalf.
One of the purposes of the Philippian epistle involved Paul’s acknowledgement and thanks for a generous gift he had received from the Philippians by the hands of Epaphroditus. In Philippians 4:14, he states: “Notwithstanding ye have well done, that ye did communicate with my affliction.” And, again in verse 18, he writes: “But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well pleasing to God.” This was a church upon which Paul could count. They always came through for him. They were constantly meeting his needs when others would not. Yes, the Philippians will ever be known as the church that gave generously so Paul could be successful in his spread of the gospel of Christ.
Most individuals love to be bragged on. They love for others to sing their praises. However, not all like to be generous givers. Many hold onto their assets for selfish purposes. In this article, we have seen that the Spirit of God gave honor in Scripture to those who willingly, and generously, gave to the Lord’s cause. Jesus honored a poor widow. Paul set forth the liberal Macedonians as an example. And, Paul gave thanks to God for the Philippians who bountifully gave to his labors. If we desire the praise of heaven, we, too, must follow in the footsteps of the generous. We must be willing to give liberally to fund the works of God. For some, this will not be easy. They don’t have much (like the widow and the Macedonians). They have worked hard to have what they have. Giving it away means the sacrifice of self. I guess the question boils down to this: “How badly do we seek to be bragged upon by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost?”