Proverbs 3:7, 27:2, 25:6-8
We’ve spent a couple of days on pride, and I just realized that we never really got around to defining it. Webster’s says that it’s “having or displaying excessive self-esteem”; that’s helpful, but it doesn’t quite capture the essence. The Hebrew word is literally “to be high.” It also can be defined as “haughty.” It’s basically regarding oneself as the most important person around, and it finds its worth in being above others. It also measures one’s value in one’s accomplishments. Humility, on the other hand, finds one’s worth/value in God’s unearned favor. It really doesn’t focus on oneself at all.
Why do I bring this up? Because there are some misunderstandings about what pride and humility really are. Pride is not feeling good about your accomplishments. And humility is not putting yourself down all the time, nor is it a lack of recognition of what you’re good at. I’d like to think that I’m gifted in teaching and in writing out devotionals. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing this. But I acknowledge that all my gifts come from my Savior, and I need to turn all praise and honor and glory back onto him. Per usual, C. S. Lewis put it so well: "Humility is not thinking less of yourself. It's thinking of yourself less."
So what other insights does Solomon provide on humility?
• Near the beginning of the book he tells not to be “wise in [our] own eyes.” What does that mean? It means that you have a healthy mistrust of your own wisdom and judgment: You continually check yourself against other believers’ judgment. Of course this assumes that you’re seeking advice from mature believers. But there are at least four times in which Proverbs tells us to seek counsel from others.
• How different is Scripture’s instruction from what the world advocates? In politics and in business, if you don’t promote yourself, if you don’t “toot your own horn,” no one else will. But Proverbs tells us not to seek our own honor. Don’t be the one to point out your own accomplishments; let someone else do it. And of course, it’s far better to let our Savior do it than fickle people!
By the way, does 25:6-8 sound at all familiar? It should, since Jesus spoke words that were very similar. Naturally this makes sense, since the same Lord inspired both the book of Proverbs and the Gospels, and they have equal authority. In most dinner parties, you weren’t assigned a specific place at the table, so you had to pick your own. It was a judgment call on your own part as to where you placed yourself in relationship to the host. The point is simple: Pick the lowest spot for yourself, and let the King promote you instead of you promoting yourself.
This is so profound, isn’t it? Instead of worrying about your place on the “totem pole,” let the Lord pick it for you. Let him exalt you as he pleases. And if he doesn’t do it in this life, so much the better! There's never been a better application of the old saying: “Good things come to those who wait.” Trust him, he’s saving his best for last.
Lord Jesus, whether you want me to increase or decrease, that’s none of my business. I’m going to follow you and please you and obey you, and let you handle the rest.
This was a good post Keith, it spoke to me because I never like to toot my own horn but sometime do just to be recognized for things I was proud of doing but went unnoticed. I have always thought of myself as being at the bottom of the totem pole because, , well someone has to hold it up.ReplyDelete
Since I rarely ever get recognized for my deeds well done, this gave me a lot of hope and gratitude that maybe someday, God will have a place for even someone like me. Thanks.