The phrase “boast in the Lord” is found in 1 Corinthians 1:31, where Paul, quoting Jeremiah 9:24, says, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” It may seem strange to think of boasting as good; after all, the word boast means “to puff oneself up in speech,” and pride is condemned in Scripture (e.g., Proverbs 11:2). Paul is obviously not talking about sinful boasting. The Bible never condones braggadocio.
Some preachers have twisted the meaning of the phrase “boast in the Lord” to support a misleading message. The phrase is commonly heard today in the prosperity gospel and Word of Faith movements. Often, it is quoted from Psalm 34:2 in the KJV, “My soul shall make her boast in the LORD,” and it is used in the context of boasting about worldly possessions or of speaking a miracle into existence. The idea is that, if you have a material need, then you should “boast” that you already have that need met. Such boasting is a proof of faith (so they say), and that faith will glorify God as your “word of confession” speaks a blessing into existence. This is most decidedly not what David and Paul meant.
Paul’s statement about boasting in the Lord has nothing to do with worldly possessions or with altering reality. The context concerns God’s ability to glorify Himself even in our weakness. When called to salvation, “not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:26-30). Whatever good may come from our ministry, we have no reason to boast because, humanly speaking, we are “weak,” “foolish,” “lowly,” and “despised.” All the glory goes to God and God alone (see Isaiah 42:8).
True boasting in the Lord is actually boasting of the Lord—boasting of His great attributes, boasting of what He has done for us, of what He is still doing and of what He has promised to do. As Jeremiah 9:23-24 says, “Thus says the LORD: ‘Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight,’ declares the LORD.”