Is boasting always a fool's game, or can it serve a larger purpose? Paul makes several helpful points in this passage.
* There is a difference between boasting for reasons of personal pride, and boasting as a strategy for saving or serving the church.
* Paul's boasts would normally be considered folly and vanity; but in this case they were the only way to open the eyes of the people being deceived by 'false apostles.'
* Paul's are a strange kind of boasts. "If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness." (11:30)
Paul matches the false apostles' boasts in several categories:
Heritage (11:22) His credentials as a Hebrew, an Israelite, and a descendant of Abraham are affirmed.
Record of Service (11:23-25) Though admitting that he is "talking like a madman," Paul boasts of being a better minister of Christ than his adversaries.
Dangers and Deprivations (11:26-29) Paul recounts a litany of sufferings in the service of Christ: imprisonments, floggings, sleepless nights, hunger and thirst.
Pastoral Concerns (11:28-29) In addition to everything else, he is under daily pressure because of his anxiety for all the churches.
It is appropriate at times to speak of ourselves, our accomplishments and our tribulations. We must, however, examine our motives. Do we "boast" out of personal pride and a desire to impress others, or do we speak in humility, fully aware of our weaknesses?