Tuesday, November 10, 2020
As a child I remember being told to stop tooting my own horn. I frequently attempted to solve my need for affirmation by boasting about my own accomplishments.
The phrase “don’t toot your own horn,” originated in Medieval times with the phrase “don’t blow your own trumpet.” Historically, a trumpet fanfare would announce the arrival of royalty or important guests at an event. At times, when a comparatively insignificant guest would arrive to no fanfare, the guest would blow his own trumpet in an attempt to gain recognition.
In 1776, the phrase became common tongue in the United States when the sentence “I think modesty is highly overrated as a virtue — my motto is ‘Toot your own horn lest the same never be tooted” appeared in the Warren-Adams Letters. I actually used that phrase as justification for tooting my own horn, believing that if I didn’t blow it, my horn would never get tooted.
During His conversation with the Jews in John eight, Jesus is accused of tooting His own horn. The Jews said to Jesus, “Who do you make yourself out to be?” (John 8:53) Jesus had just told the people that if they kept His word they would never taste of death. The people thought Jesus was embellishing the truth of who He was.
Listen carefully to the response of Jesus. “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me…” (John 8:54)
Speaking highly of yourself does not produce the credibility or validation that is sought. However, when someone else speaks highly of you, that is commendable and credible. It feels good to be praised by others. It’s far superior to praising oneself.
On Sunday, as I quarantined myself on a tree stand and hunted deer, I sent text messages to my oldest grandson about the status of a football game. He gave me lots of details and facts because I knew he would. I commended him. Later that evening, I texted a younger grandson from another family, and asked him how the game had gone. He related all the same facts I already knew, but he didn’t know I knew them. After he was done, I commended him for being such a great fan. Then I said this. “I knew I could count on you to give me the details.” I could see the smile on his face in my mind as he said thank you.
Jesus spoke the truth. He did not ask to be honored for doing it. Jesus did not toot His own horn. However, God the Father glorified Him for speaking the truth. Can you image the fanfare Jesus received from the Father when He returned to the throne following His death, resurrection, and ascension into glory?
We are all guilty of drawing attention to ourselves. We all, at varying decibels, blow our own trumpets and toot our own horns. We all seek recognition, and we think we can get it by announcing our accomplishments. However, the harder we blow, the less people care to know.
But when we humbly, consistently, and obediently serve God, God will blow your horn. And when God toots your trumpet, it has never been tooted better.