Bragging is a temptation for all of us because everyone wants to feel special and noticed. This is a basic human need. Since God wants us to feel highly valued through friendships and family, we all need to learn to avoid bragging. When we feel insecure, our first sinful instinct is to take things into our own hands and brag. The irony is if we just trust what God teaches about bragging, and follow his guidance, then we will eventually get the very thing we are seeking: relationships. But if we ignore God’s teaching and seek relationships in our own flesh, we will get the opposite: no relationships. After all, who wants to be around someone who is bragging all of the time?
In working with young people I like to tackle crippling issues like this in a short devotional style called PALS. First pick 5-7 questions from below (in red) and then see how it helps your teenage friends!
P – PRIME the pump: We all brag…
Here are a couple examples on the topic of bragging that will help get conversation rolling:
- Has anyone ever been tempted to brag about a great play they made in a sports game? We’ve all done it.
- Think of an instance when you bragged about something you did to a friend.
- How did you feel after you bragged? Did you feel better or worse after you bragged?
A – ALIGN with God’s heart: Resist bragging and you’ll be rewarded…
Teenagers are encouraged by reminders that they are more “like” other people, than they are “different.” When we realize how similar we are to other people it gives us hope and compassion. It helps us dream about how we can impact the world around us:
- Have you ever done a good deed, felt good about it, and then bragged about it to someone? When you bragged about it, did you feel like the reward for that good deed was taken away? If you had kept your good deed a secret do you think you would have felt better inside?
- How about this: have you ever made something really cool and then bragged about it to someone? Or have you ever bragged about an accomplishment or a big play you made on a sports team? If you had just kept quiet about your accomplishment do you think you would have felt better inside?
L – LEARN the meaning of the text: Keep quiet about yourself + Praise others often = Reward of Relationships (with God and others)
The next thing we do is read a short passage together and discuss a couple of questions that help them understand the meaning of the text.
- Read these two passages as a group: Matthew 6:1-4, Proverbs 27:2
Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. (Matthew 6:1-4)
Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth;
an outsider, and not your own lips. (Proverbs 27:2)
- According to Matthew 6:1-4 what happens to your reward if you brag about it?
- By contrast, what will God do if you trust him and keep quiet about your good deed, not bragging about it?
- According to Proverbs 27:2, when is it good to praise yourself?
- Even though God instructs us not to brag, how free are you to praise others when they do something well or noteworthy?
- In what ways does not bragging help you improve your relationship with God?
- Do you believe that if you stop bragging and start praising others instead, that God will bless you with good relationships with others?
- If you have a habit of praising others, do you believe that eventually your friends might start building you up and praising or acknowledging you?
- In what ways does not bragging require faith?
S- SERVE your friends: Praise others and trust that God will build you up
In conclusion, challenge to the group to see what kinds of ideas they have for taking what they’ve learned from the discussion and finding a way to serve their school better.
- According to God’s Word, the best way to stop bragging is to start acknowledging and praising others. Make a list of your close friends and commit to praising or encouraging something they do this week. Make praising your friends a habit and see how God will bless you.
- We all need to be acknowledged and valued. But bragging does not accomplish this. What is one thing you feel like God may be speaking to you and teaching you today from this study? How are you going to take a step of faith to avoid the trap of bragging this week?
- Pray for each other to trust God’s word and have the faith to practice it this…