Friday, October 4, 2013

Proverbs 25:6-7 I'll take the seat in the back of the room, please!

The next few chapters of Proverbs were sayings that King Hezekiah compiled from writings of Solomon, 250 years after Solomon wrote. Jon Courson writes that it was as if Hezekiah or his men ran across these writings in some old files. His take away from that is that we never know what influence we may have, even after we are dead! Someone may read a journal entry or a note in the margin of your Bible and be impacted by your words. Wouldn’t that be amazing?

There are lots of gems here, but the one that struck me as I read this morning was similar to something Jesus said:

Don’t work yourself into the spotlight;

    don’t push your way into the place of prominence.

It’s better to be promoted to a place of honor

    than face humiliation by being demoted. (Proverbs 25:6-7 The Message)

Self-promotion can end in humiliation. Jesus warned of this, too, while eating at the home of a ruler of the Pharisees:

Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them,  “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him,  and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place.  But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you.  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:7-11 ESV)

One of the upside-down principles of the Bible is that when you humble yourself, the LORD will lift you up. However, if you lift yourself up, you can be guaranteed of a fall. The world encourages people who aggressively promote themselves. It’s at the heart of social media. But as Christians, our example is Jesus:

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,  but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:5-11)

We are not here to be served, but to serve. So, pushing our way to the front of the line, or seeking the best seat in the house, or manipulating a situation so that we get the largest portion possible is absolutely inconsistent with the behavior of a Christ-follower. Instead of desiring to see our name in lights, we should be lifting up the name of the Light of the world!

LORD, help us to be alert to any tendencies we may have to seek glory for ourselves. May we keep before us your example of humility as you took on the form of a weak baby in order to save us! Transform us into your image more and more; refine us so that others may see your reflection in our faces!  

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