The ABC’s of Wisdom: Building Character with Solomon - Honor
Winning the Respect of Others
A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.
Here we have a double prediction. Pride destroys, but humility brings honor. In the first category are many examples. For instance, King Nebuchadnezzar lost his mind and was made to eat grass like the cattle. For seven years his body “was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird” (Daniel 4:33). This startling transformation took place because he was proud and took credit for his own accomplishments, refusing to give God the glory. God brought him down in the most humiliating way possible. If he had died it would not have been as shocking as the sight of the mightiest man on earth looking like a wild animal and romping in the field with cattle.
But this strange story is also instructive in a positive way. Daniel 4:34 tells us that when the king lifted his eyes toward heaven, his sanity was restored. Then he “honored and glorified him who lives forever.” As a result of this change of heart, the king reported, “My honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom” (v.36a). He was restored to his throne with even greater power than before. His final words are instructive: “Those who walk in pride he [God] is able to humble” (v. 37b).
This brings us back to Proverbs 29:23, which links a lowly spirit with honor. Derek Kidner notes that pride is destructive because it opposes the first principle of wisdom-the fear of the Lord. When a man thinks too highly of himself, he is a fitting candidate for God’s judgment. To use a modern phrase, the proud man is a sitting duck. By the same token, honor comes to those who admit they don’t deserve it.
Proverbs 25:27 flips this concept over when it reminds us, “Nor is it honorable to seek one’s own honor.” What a rebuke to the modern spirit of self-promotion and “looking out for number one.” God delights to reverse the judgments of the world. He chooses the weak to overcome the strong and the foolish to defeat the wise. In the same way, the first shall be last and the last shall be first; those who try to save their lives will lose them, and those who lose their lives in the service of Christ will ultimately find them.
Recently a letter arrived from a missionary friend newly arrived in a foreign land. After speaking of the understandable homesickness and the sense of dislocation, she writes, “There is the calm assurance that this is where we’re supposed to be (most days, that is)"-with a little smiley-face at the end of the sentence. That seems to be a wonderfully balanced approach to the challenges she and her husband face. Later she mentions the joy that comes from being where the Lord wants her to be “even when I don’t feel happy to be here.”
Is this not what it means to “find” your soul by losing it? Honor comes to those who day by day humble themselves and do God’s will, whatever it may be.
Lord Jesus, help me today to do Your will and trust You for the results. Amen.
Do you know anyone whose pride led to his downfall? When you think of humility, whose name comes to mind? What kind of honor has that person received?
As far as you know it, what is God’s will for you today?
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