Was the apostle Paul prideful? Is there such a thing as rightful pride? Should we follow his example?
In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God.
Sometimes Bible translations seem to greatly differ. For example, in the New King James Version today’s verse reads: “Therefore I have reason to glory in Christ Jesus in the things which pertains to God.” That seems quite different from having “reason to be proud of my work for God.” Let’s consider both translations and see if they truly differ.
The New King James Version is rather plain: our boast can only be in Jesus for the things that pertain to God. In other words: everything that pertains to God—true service to Him—can only come through Jesus Christ. That’s why our boast can only be in Him.
That echoes Jesus’ words: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). All spiritual life, work, and fruitfulness have to flow from the Vine—from Jesus.
The English Standard Version states the same: “In Christ Jesus, then . . .” Yes, Paus wasn’t passive in His work for Christ. Actually, to the Corinthians he wrote: “I worked harder than any of them.” However, he also stated the reason for that: “Though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me” (1 Cor. 15:10). That’s simply another way of saying: “In Christ Jesus, then . . .” Paul could genuinely be “proud of my work for God” because He attributed it to the Vine—being in Christ Jesus.
When we look at Bible verses, it’s always important to look at the context. In the following verse Paul wrote: “For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed” (Rom. 15:18). The “for” connects it to the previous one, giving the cause.
He works and we work, being fellow workers with Him. We can genuinely point to the fruit of the Vine—our work for Him—and be delighted in it. That pride is a testimony to the excellence and grace of the Vine. Isn’t that also the gospel, sharing in what He has accomplished?
The Devotional Writer
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