(Prov 25:5,6 GNB) When you stand before the king, don’t try to impress him and pretend to be important. It is better to be asked to take a higher position than to be told to give your place to someone more important.
This morning we continue our series, “Unlocking the Power of Proverbs – Walking in the Wisdom of God.” There is nothing wrong with being confident, but some cross the line from confidence to arrogance. There is nothing inherently wrong with being ambitious, but some cross the line from ambition to greed. As a believer, I even think it’s okay to be aggressive, outgoing, and out-front when pursuing what you are believing God for, but we all know those who take it too far and become pretentious and overbearing. Solomon taught people that when you stand before the king, or anyone of prominence/importance for that matter, that you should not attempt to establish your importance. Let the king decide where you stand in his pecking order. You don’t get to tell him, he gets to tell you. That’s an important lesson to remember.
Solomon also teaches us something else in this passage. I am sure we have all seen it; when the pretentious person exalts him or herself to a place/position they were not invited to take, only to be asked to move. This can be extremely embarrassing. Jesus made this proverb into a parable, saying: “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place. It could happen that someone more important than you has been invited, and your host, who invited both of you, would have to come and say to you, ‘Let him have this place.’ Then you would be embarrassed and have to sit in the lowest place. Instead, when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that your host will come to you and say, ‘Come on up, my friend, to a better place.’ This will bring you honor in the presence of all the other guests. For those who make themselves great will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be made great.” (see Luke 14:7-11). The last line there is literally the bottom-line. I work in NGOs and I have seen the constant ‘jockeying’ for a position ‘at the table’ at meetings and it is quite embarrassing when someone moves themselves up, only to be asked to move back. It’s always better when it works the other way around.
So what does this mean to you today? A few things:
1. While believers should not have a low self-esteem, you should also not think more highly of yourself than you ought to think.
2. To overvalue our own importance is to risk the embarrassment of being “put lower” in the presence of others.
3. The leader has the right to decide the pecking order in his or her organization, not the led.
4. If you attempt to make yourself great you will be humbled, but if you humble yourself you will be made great.
5. Let others tell you how great you are. Don’t go around doing it yourself.