This is genuinely surprising to many Christians today, who were raised to think of "taking pride in your work" and having good self-esteem.
There is culture at work here on all sides (as there always is). In ancient culture especially, boasting was just begging the gods to put you in your place. The story of Herod Antipas in Acts 12 is a case in point.
The old Japanese proverb captures the dynamic well--"The nail that sticks out gets hammered first." This is why we knock on wood and don't test fate.
At the same time (as usual), there is a twin problem. "God don't make trash." If we are created in the image of God, then we shouldn't treat ourselves, let alone others, as dirt.
So here are my thoughts:
- If we weren't created in the image of God, we would pretty much just be dirt. If God and others love me, my death is significant. If there is no God, I'm road kill. Thankfully, God does exist and loves even the most despicable, let alone those the world considers insignificant. That makes all of us priceless.
- None of us are as smart or as capable as we think. If androids take over the world, "human spirit" won't count for squat. The movies are wrong. We lose, big time. Again, if we didn't believe in God, we should be afraid of the next step in the evolutionary chain (namely, the X-Men).
- The old proverbs still ring true. "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched." "Call no one happy until they're dead." "Don't say, 'I'm going to do this or that.' Say, 'If the Lord wills...'"
- So be "proud" of the paltry talents you have and your feeble accomplishments. Be proud in perspective, knowing that in yourself you're dirt. Your value is derivative.
- But remember, if you're good, others will tell you. You won't need to tell them. Most of those who brag are wannabies. And if you're really all that great, you won't have to tell others to convince yourself.