17 But “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” 18 For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends.
The following quote is from Jeremiah 9:24. Note that Paul used Jeremiah 9:23-24 two times for the Corinthians (here and 1 Co 1:31). The team needed to orient to the glory of God in what they did.
“he who glories [boasts],
The false apostles boasted in their remarkable achievements. If one is to brag, it is to do it with a limitation (Ps 20:7; 34:2).
let him glory in the Lord.”
The only genuine boasting or glorying is to “glory in the Lord” (Ro 15:17-18; 1 Co 1:31; 15:10; Ga 6:14). To go outside the limit of giving God the glory is pride that gives credit to self rather than the Lord (Ps 115:1). The Christian’s boast rests in what God does through him.
18 For not he who commends himself is approved [passed the test],
The simple claim that someone deserves honor does not make it so. Self-approval is not what the Lord approves. The only true test is when the Lord tests the believer. To boast in one’s ability does not get God’s approval. He grades how we do in ministry appropriately.
but whom the Lord commends.
The ultimate judge of whether a person is approved is whether the Lord commends him.
Paul employs the same word “commends” as he did in 2 Corinthians 10:12. Appropriate commendation comes from the Lord, not self.
God’s commendation of our ministry is all that ultimately counts.
An overarching theme in Corinthians is that believers are insufficient in themselves to do ministry. We must trust God to work through us (2 Co 1:9, 21; 2:14, 16; 3:5–6; 4:5, 7, 10; 6:6–7; 9:8–11; 10:17; 12:7–10; 13:4). It is a fault of our day that churches become enamored with certain leaders. The Bible warns us to give glory to God for what He does through us (1 Co 3:7). The opposite is to emphasize prestige, notoriety, and fame of men. It is what God evaluates, not what men values, that will count for eternity (1 Co 4:3-5).