“Vaunteth Not Itself”

The word “vaunt” appears twice in the Bible: once when the Lord tells Gideon to reduce the size of his army, “lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me” (Judges 7:2), and again when the apostle Paul tells the Corinthians, “Charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up…seeketh not her own” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

The word “vaunt” descends from the Latin word vanus, meaning empty or vain (Online Etymological Dictionary). To vaunt yourself is not only unkind to other people and disrespectful to God, it is actually a waste of time. What do you gain by endlessly reciting your accomplishments, and what could you accomplish if you put that energy to more productive use?

In Mormon’s discussion of charity, which closely mirrors Paul’s, the phrase about not vaunting oneself is omitted, but the related phrases about not being “puffed up” and “[seeking] not [one’s] own” are still there. (See Moroni 7:45.)

Elder Neal A. Maxwell recommended that we overcome the temptation to vaunt ourselves by remembering God’s influence in our lives:

Let us…first acknowledge God’s hand. Otherwise, the rationalizations appear, and they include, “My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth” (Deut. 8:17). Or, we “vaunt” ourselves, as ancient Israel would have done (except for Gideon’s deliberately small army), by boasting that “mine own hand hath saved me” (Judg. 7:2). Touting our own “hand” makes it doubly hard to confess God’s hand in all things (see Alma 14:11D&C 59:21).

Consecrate Thy Performance,” General Conference, April 2002

Today I will avoid vaunting myself by expressing gratitude to God and to others. I will remember that vaunting is vain (self-centered and useless), and I will look for more productive and unselfish ways to spend my time and energy.

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