We are proud of our son for being able to write his name, and my wife was boasting that she helped him learn to write it. Ultimately, we both know it's from God that he is able to learn this skill and my wife has the ability to teach him.

I know that pride and boasting in ourselves is not good (see verses below), but as long as we ultimately acknowledge God in our pride and boasting, is it acceptable to do this?

Jeremiah 9:23–24 (NIV)

23 This is what the LORD says:

    “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
   or the strong boast of their strength
   or the rich boast of their riches,
24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
    that they have the understanding to know me,
that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness,
    justice and righteousness on earth,
    for in these I delight,”
        declares the LORD.

James 4:6 (NIV)

6 But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says:

     “God opposes the proud
      but shows favor to the humble.”
  • 6
    I think it really comes down to intentions. Are you boasting to build yourself up, or to bring glory to God? The two aren't mutually exclusive but you should think about it.
    – styfle
    Aug 26, 2011 at 1:54

4 Answers 4


To supplement your verses on proper/inproper boasting, see Phil 3:4,7-8 and Gal 6:13,14. To answer your question, I first quote

In all your ways acknowledge Him, and he shall direct thy paths Prov. 3:6

Especially if you honor God, (as you say "as long as we ultimately acknowledge God") it is good to praise others, or to be satisfied in someone or something, even your own accomplishments. We mustn't, however honor God with our lips while our heart is far from Him. (Isaiah 29:13)

When the Lord saw what He had created and called it good. He was proud of His creation. He called it good. Even to Satan, God says, "Have you seen my servant Job?" and in Zeph 3:17 He rejoices over His people with singing.

If you read the words of many righteous men in scriptures, they acknowledge what they have done with the Lord's help. David did no wrong in 1 Samuel 17:34-37 when he said to Saul

Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David, Go, and the LORD be with thee. (emphasis added)

So, your wife can be proud to say with full assurance that she is teaching your son to read. I praise God with you that she has that ability!

  • 1
    One more thing to note is that in the quoted scripture, everything is objective. Nothing was subjective.
    – Pacerier
    Sep 1, 2011 at 13:30

Much like "love," the word "pride" has more than one meaning which are very different from each other. There are two (possibly more but two principal ones) in common use:

Pride the Deadly Sin is rooted in enmity, competition and self-centeredness. Its mindset is always some variation on "I am better than you." It should not be necessary to go into detail as to why this attitude is directly opposed to Christian principles.

"Good pride," on the other hand, is a completely different thing, based on achievement and self-improvement. It's mindset is "I am better than I was yesterday." It's a noble emotion, one that inspires us onward towards the loftiest of all the Gospel principles: "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father in Heaven is perfect."

Boasting is generally inspired by the evil pride, and ought to be avoided. However, it has a nobler counterpart, whose attitude, instead of "look how awesome I am!" is "rejoice with me!" One attempts to place oneself above others; the other brings people together as equals.

  • 1
    a bit off-topic, but I struggle with the "proud of someone else/someone else's actions" version of this word (especially when held against your "good pride" meaning, which is what I usually mean when I use or think of the word). Upon my son's engagement, people would say "congratulations, you must be proud." I'm not sure how to react - I certainly did't have anything to do with the engagement; how can I be "proud"?
    – StevenV
    Sep 18, 2015 at 17:32

There are different kinds of boasting. If you are boasting on a matter which you have achieved and have great pride about, I guess it's ok to boast. However, there are some boasts that is dangerous to have. Like "I am more holy and good than others" kind of boasting, or even going as far as saying that one does not need God. Those are kinds of boasting that God dislikes.


2 Corinthians 10:13-18

13 But we will not boast beyond our measure, but within the measure of the sphere which God apportioned to us as a measure, to reach even as far as you. 14 For we are not overextending ourselves, as if we did not reach to you, for we were the first to come even as far as you in the gospel of Christ; 15 not boasting beyond our measure, that is, in other men’s labors, but with the hope that as your faith grows, we will be, within our sphere, enlarged even more by you, 16 so as to preach the gospel even to the regions beyond you, and not to boast in what has been accomplished in the sphere of another. 17 But he who boasts is to boast in the Lord. 18 For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends.

Paul's conclusion and your answer is summed up in 17, derived from 13, where he reveals the boast is only valid because God is the one who opened the door for him to step through. The success he attributes to his work is also made exclusive, as to make sure that it is not a boast that can be credited to him off the backs of others. 18 appears to disapprove of such boasts originating within ones own self accomplishment. The commendation of oneself is valid when it is fulfilling a task in which God has initiated or approved of.

A simple example would be in giving, where the false boast comes from someone who believed the giving to another originated from within their own moral proclivities, because they are a "good person". A positive boast would be in recognition of the ability to be a joyful giver because God's Spirit has empowered you to give freely devoid of any selfish ambition.

The latter action would be boasting in the Lord, in which the Lord commends, the former would be a boast in one's own ability, where commendation can only come from you.

To me it seems any valid boast is really just a deep recognition and thanks to the Lord, that it couldn't have been done without Him, but it still can connect to a "wow, I can't believe I just did that," sort of thing.

  • Another example, though not sure if it's entirely sincere based on the person, is within a sporting event when someone will hit a home run or score a touchdown, and you see them point to the sky, essentially saying I did this feat because of you (God). Also if you're walking in step with the Spirit, he will convict of sin, if you're having a moment of pride he'll be sure to let you know, being conformed to the image of Christ who is the paradigm of humility, you'll be ever striving to be more humble, literally running at even suspected chances of self glorification.
    – Matt Clark
    Sep 18, 2015 at 3:40

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