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Boasting and Bragging: What's the Difference?

Rev. Margaret Minnicks is an ordained Bible teacher. She writes many articles that are Bible lessons.


The words "boasting" and "bragging" and the concept of both words are found throughout the Bible in the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Boasting is showing pride and promoting yourself. It takes the glory away from the Lord. If you want to glorify someone, then let it be God and not yourself.

The words are used more than 117 in the Bible. If a person boasts of God and what He has done, it is not sinful. It becomes sinful when a person boasts about himself and talks constantly about what He owns and has done without the help of God. Boasting in oneself is an expression of pride and self-promotion without any humility at all.

Boasting: Definition

The dictionary defines boasting as the act of talking excessively about one's achievements, possessions, or abilities. It is being proud and displaying self-satisfaction over what one has, where he has been, and what he has done. When a person boasts, he becomes self-centered and egotistical.

When a person boasts, he constantly uses the personal pronouns "I, me, my, and mine." He focuses on himself more than on others. In fact, he tends to put others down in order to build himself up. A person who boasts enjoys being the center of attention.


Improper Boasting

One way to determine if boasting is proper or improper is to determine if the boasting is about God, others, or yourself. If it is about God or others, then it is proper. It the boasting is about yourself, then it is improper.

Here are some examples of improper boasting.

  • Improper boasting takes the glory away from God who deserves it alone.
  • Improper boasting puts the focus on one's self and sometimes it can't even be verified.
  • Improper boasting comes with arrogance. Paul describes the arrogant and boastful as "God-haters" in Romans 1:30.
  • When improper boasting is involved, it presents an exaggerated account of one's self.
  • Boasting in oneself is an expression of pride and is improper.
  • Improper boasting doesn't show humility.
  • The presence of self-exaltation is the result of improper boasting.

Proper Boasting

Proper boasting is when one boasts and praises God for what He has done instead of taking the credit for himself. Whenever a person boasts of his own accomplishments, he takes the glory away from God and puts it on himself where it doesn't belong.

To boast about others is proper only when you do not involve yourself. For instance, if you boast of funding your niece's college tuition when she graduates, then you have included yourself in her accomplishment. That is boasting on your part. You should compliment and boast about others without including yourself in the story of their success.

In Jeremiah 9:24, the prophet says the same thing in the Old Testament that Paul says twice in the New Testament about boasting. According to 1 Corinthians 1:31 and 2 Corinthians 10:17, "Let him who boasts boast in the Lord." Korah confessed it correctly in Psalm 44:8 when he said, "In God, we make our boast all day long." That is the proper form of boasting.

Proper boasting is encouraging others about their accomplishments and wait for them to boast about you. According to Solomon, "Let another praise you, and not your own mouth" (Proverbs 27:2).

Proper boasting in others is a source of encouragement in the body of Christ. In addition to boasting in others, Paul also boasts in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:2).

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Scriptures About Boasting

If you don't think boasting is a sin, read some of the following scriptures. There are many more in the Bible.

  • “I warned the proud, ‘Stop your boasting! (Psalm 75:4)
  • "How long will these evil people boast?" (Psalm 94:4)
  • "Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth–a stranger, not your own lips" (Proverbs 27:2) Let other people do the talking about you.
  • “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:31-1 Corinthians 2:1)
  • "You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud." (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
  • "For by such grace you have been saved through faith. This does not come from you; it is the gift of God and not the result of actions, to put a stop to all boasting. Because it is God's gift, "no one can boast" ( Ephesians 2:8-9 ). James reminds us that all arrogant boasting is evil (James 4:16).
  • "These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage." (Jude 16)

Bragging: Definition

The dictionary definition of bragging is similar to boasting. However, there is a slight difference. When you are bragging, you are also boasting.

People who brag constantly tell others about the great things they've done. Bragging is showing off verbally. A specific boast can be called a brag. Usually bragging is done in an arrogantly way while boasting may not be done that way.

What Bragging Is All About

The best way to brag about yourself to others is probably not to brag at all. Let other people do the bragging for you. Giving yourself a mental pat on the back for a job well done can help boost your feelings. However, if you consistently talk about your accomplishments, you annoy people and they will begin to avoid you. There are right and wrong ways to let your light shine without annoying people by always bragging about it.

Bragging Among Christians

Bragging is done all the time among Christians. Pastors boast from the pulpit about how many members are in the church and how big their budget is. They even boast about how good they are at preaching and teaching the word of God. They claim they are the best in everything they do.

If you want to hear a lot of boasting in the church, then listen to the testimonies that people give. The testimonies are more about them and little or nothing about Christ.

When Bragging is Bad

Here are several times when bragging is bad.

  1. Bragging is bad when you intentionally make yourself the focus of every conversation by talking about what you have done or intend to do.
  2. Bragging is bad when something you say about yourself can't be verified. When bragging is based on your self-report only, you run the risk of not being believed.
  3. Bragging is bad when you consistently give yourself self-praise.
  4. Bragging is drawing attention to your success with a disclaimer such as "I shouldn’t brag, but…” or “I shouldn’t blow my own trumpet but …” Your disclaimer alerts others to the fact that you know you are bragging. Your disclaimer makes your bragging worse.
  5. When you attempt to impress others by including yourself in someone's accomplishments, you are still bragging. Grandparents are known to brag about their grandchildren by showing pictures and talking about what they have done for their grandchildren. Perhaps a co-worker you mentored got promoted and now you brag about what you did to help.
  6. Sometimes people brag by saying what they can do better than someone one even though they really can't.
  7. Don't brag to hurt others. Putting them down doesn't elevate you.


All About Boasting


Margaret Minnicks (author) from Richmond, VA on July 26, 2019:

Ms. Dora, thanks for reading my article about boasting and letting me know you wrote an article on the same subject. I'll read it now and comment on it.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on July 26, 2019:

Just posted an article on boasting, and then saw yours. Interesting explanation. Thanks.

Lori Colbo from United States on June 03, 2019:

I always considered them the same so it was interesting seeing the bit of difference. Great topic and done well.

Tim Truzy from U.S.A. on June 03, 2019:

Excellent article. Thank you, Margaret. Great read.

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