I overheard an interesting discussion recently. A group of students were talking about music, and as the conversation progressed – no matter what point one of them made – one fellow would wade in to deliver the authoritative opinion. The most amusing moment occurred when one student dared to disagree with this pontiff. “Well,” he sniffed, “I happen to be the person who has actually studied this subject!”

The aggravating thing is that the point he was making was probably correct. What person, possessing a special quality, ability, or gift, doesn’t show off at one time or another? It is tough keeping quiet in a discussion when you are the smartest guy about the topic at hand. And the most beautiful girl in the room finds it difficult to not take advantage of that fact. It’s fun to talk trash on the court, especially if you can back it up. The human psyche is marinated in pride. I googled the phrase “if you’ve got it, flaunt it.” Google returned 386,000 results. One finds a song with that title. Advertisers use to the phrase to sell clothes, jewelry, perfume, and automobiles. Girls on the catwalk and guys on the ball field are all egged on.

What does Christ teach us about this? Let us remember that in this matter, Jesus was not just as tempted as we are, he was tempted more than we can ever be. Consider when Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. When Satan challenged Jesus to turn stones into bread, we should remember that Jesus really could do that at any time! What if you or I had the ability to conjure up whatever food we wanted, when we wanted it? Just having food in the kitchen refrigerator is often more temptation than I can resist. Have you seen the State Farm commercial: Everyone gets the joke (“And can I get a hot tub?!”). And when Satan called upon Jesus to jump from the Temple mount, he was in effect saying to the Son of God, “If you’ve got, flaunt it.”

Jesus of Nazareth demonstrated the proper way to exercise one’s gifts. He did so only according to the will of the Father. Our Lord yielded the independent use of his divine attributes—his omnipotence, his omniscience, and all his excellencies—to his heavenly Father. In the New Testament we read where Jesus Christ manifested his glories—but always at a time that suited the Father’s will. Often, our Savior did not take advantage of abilities available to him. “Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matt 26:52)

The Son of God never flaunted anything. So there is a proper time when the great athlete should run with the ball, the golden-voiced tenor should sing the solo, and the charismatic pastor should preach the Word to the congregation. The Bible teaches us the proper disposition to have: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31) Lord, by your grace let me not flaunt it, but glorify you with it.