MONDAY, 25 MAY, 2020
Proverbs 25: 6 & 7
6 Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,
and do not claim a place among his great men; (NIV)
7 it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,”
than for him to humiliate you before his nobles. (NIV)
6 Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king,
And do not stand in the place of the great;
7 For it is better that he say to you,
“Come up here,”
Than that you should be put lower in the presence of the prince,
Whom your eyes have seen. (NKJV)
The first seven verses of Proverbs 25 appear to be directed at those who serve in the courts of kings and royalty. In brief, the verses 6 & 7 contain advice on how to keep a low profile and avoid self – exaltation. When a man or woman humbles himself before kings, he or she may be invited to a higher place by that king. How embarrassing it would be for that man or woman if it were the other way around, arrogantly setting himself/herself high and then being put lower by his royal employer. The lesson is clear: avoid self-assertion and presumption if one is engaged at the royal courts for it is better to be lifted up than put down.
Jesus told a parable in Luke 14: 8-11 with very much the same point, although the circumstances were different. While Proverbs refers to behaviour in a royal court, the setting here is a wedding banquet, with admonitions to not be presumptuous that one has been allocated a “place of honour”. The final verse in this parable is telling. Jesus warns ”11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Perhaps this parable is pointing to the wedding banquet on the last day and the surprising revelations that will take place.
Similar concluding warnings may be found at the end of two other narratives in the Gospels:
(1) The parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector in Luke 14: 11 “… For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”, and
(2) A passage where Jesus strongly warned the scribes and pharisees against hypocrisy in Matthew 23: 12 ”And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Humility is such a difficult quality to grasp. Tim Keller says ” Humility is so shy. If you begin talking about it, it leaves. To even ask the question, “Am I humble?” is to not be so. Examining your own heart, even for pride, often leads to being proud about your diligence and circumspection.”
After reading Proverbs 25: 6 &7 how would you answer these questions which only your own heart is able to address, hopefully without conceit or deceit:
Before whom do you seek honour? Are you aware you are serving the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and those of the household of faith? Are you willing to seek places of humble service until that day when you face the heavenly King and He says to you, “Come up here, good and faithful servant… I know you have humbled yourself, you shall be exalted . . .”
The late Ravi Zacharias had this to say on the subject of leadership and humility, although his comments have broad application for all Christians, leaders or otherwise:
If you go through the New Testament, you will find the word leader hardly ever comes, but the word servant comes hundreds of times. We are really called to serve. . . .
Remain humble. You did not arrive where you are because of your own skill. Remember that the Word of God tells you that you are called there by His grace and by His mercy . . .
Everything is fragile and vulnerable. I am not here by virtue of my strength. We are hereby virtue of God’s call and God’s strength. That alone ought to remind us of why we need to be humble. The very voice (we possess), the very ability to stand and speak, the very gift of language, the very calling is the gift of God. And if that’s not enough to keep us humble, I don’t know what will.
God is able to bring you to a place where He wants you and the best way to get there is to be an imitator of Christ, not a manufacture of some sense of celebrity in yourself. If you are humble, God will use you. If you are arrogant, He will know how to break you.
A Humbling Prayer
Lord Jesus, we can only have a glimpse of what it took for you to empty yourself, take on human form, and become a servant for our sakes, knowing it would end in death on a humiliating wooden cross.
7 rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8 And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Even now, I confess swells of pride flow over me for what little work I do, including this, whether for God’s family or for anyone for that matter. The evil one is unceasing in His spiritual darts, whether to praise with flattering choruses of “Well Done!” or accuse and condemn mercilessly “You don’t deserve to call yourself a Christian! You hopeless hypocrite!”
Lord Jesus, I take comfort in knowing you know me with my flaws and shortcomings that are inherent in me better than I know myself – and You love and accept me all the same. Thank you for taking all my guilt and shame away. The truth has set me free! Thank You Lord Jesus.
In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Ps Cheng Cheung
箴言25的前七节经文似乎是针对那些在皇室宫廷工作的人。 简而言之，6和7节劝勉读者如何保持低调和避免自高自大的态度。 当一个男人或女人在国王面前谦卑，他或她可能会被国王邀请上更高的座位。 相反，若一个男人或女人骄傲自大地将自己抬高，却被指使退下，场景将是多么尴尬难堪呀! 明确的教训：处在皇室宫廷的人应当避免自我主张和擅自作主，因为被升高比被降卑光彩。
耶稣在路加福音14：8-11中讲了一个与以上箴言类似的比喻，虽然情景不同。箴言指的是在皇室宫廷的行为，而这里的设置是一个婚宴。作者警告不要冒昧地给自己分配在‘高位上’。 这个比喻的最后一节真是震撼人心。 耶稣警告，”因为凡高抬自己的，必要降卑；自己谦卑的，必要升高。” 也许这个比喻是指在末日的婚宴和令人惊讶的启示。
谦卑是个难以领悟的特性。 蒂姆.凯勒 (Tim Keller)说, ”谦卑是如此害羞。 如果你开始谈论它，它便离开。当一个人问自己‘我是否谦卑？’，其实就表示他并非谦卑。 审视自己的内心，即使是为了自尊，往往会使你为自己的勤奋和谨慎感到骄傲。”
你在谁面前寻求荣誉呢？ 你知道你在事奉万王之王和万主之主，也服侍信徒们吗? 你是否愿意寻求谦卑的事奉，直到一天，当你见天上的君王，他对你说，”来这里，良善又忠心的仆人…我知道你已谦卑，现在你将被升高。”
保持谦卑。 你不是因个人的技能而达到今天的位置。 请记住，上帝的话语告诉你，他以恩典和怜悯召你。
一切都是脆弱易碎。 我不是凭我的力量而在这里。我们在这里都是因着上帝的呼召和他的力量—就凭这一点，我们应当谦卑。 我们所拥有的声音、站立和说话的能力、语言和呼召都是上帝所赐的礼物。 如果这还不足以让我们谦卑，我不知道什么可以。
上帝能带你到他旨意的地方。到达那里的最佳方式就是效法基督，而不是塑造自己成为有名气的人。 如果你谦卑，上帝会使用你。 如果你傲慢，他会使你破碎。
即使是现在，无论是对上帝的家人或任何人所做的事，我承认我会为自己所做的小事居功自傲。 恶者总是不断地射飞镖，用好听的话恭维人，“干得好“， 或者无情地指责，”你不配称自己为基督徒！ 你这个无可救药，假冒为善的人！”
主耶稣，我感到安慰，因为我知道你认识我，也知道那些我生来就有的缺点。你比我更了解自己。你虽知道我的一切，你仍爱我，接纳我。 谢谢你拿走了我所有的内疚和羞耻。 真理使我自由！ 感谢主耶稣。