Category Archives: pride/humility

Be Humble, Don’t Fumble (11:2)

Proverbs 11:2

When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.

The simple message of this proverb is that the prideful person is more likely to get knocked down to size than the person who is already humble. Shame follows on the heels of pride, while wisdom is already with the humble.

A Story

I don’t know where the original story came from, but years ago my dad told me a story about a proud preacher. The young minister was confident in his abilities and his preparation. So, when asked to preach in a conference, the young man jumped at the opportunity, strutted up to the stage, and manned the pulpit.

It didn’t take long for the prideful young minister to realize he was blowing it. When he was finished, he slowly shuffled down the steps from the stage, head hung low, looking totally dejected. Then, feeling like a total failure, he sat down by an older, wiser man of God.

How do you think you did up there?” the older man asked.

I totally blew it,” the young preacher said. “I don’t know what happened. I knew the material, was prepared, and wasn’t even nervous.

Gently, the old pulpiteer asked, “So what you’re saying is that you went up there with your head held high, but came down with it hanging low, correct?

Yessir, that’s about it,” said the young man. “I don’t know what I could have done differently.

With a slight grin the old preacher looked at the younger and said, “If you’d went up there the way you came down, you’d have come down the way you went up.

You Down With That?

When some people ask if you understand something, they may say, “You down with that?” Ironically, in the case of this proverb, being “down” with it, or being “lowly,” is where wisdom can be found.

Do you understand what the old preacher was saying? He was only echoing Solomon in today’s proverb. Pride, cockiness, and self-assurance are not far ahead of shame, humiliation, and embarrassment. The wise, by being humble from the beginning, will rise in due time, and not in their own strength.

Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6

Don’t let pride cause you to fumble a scoring opportunity.

Advertisements

Whose Lips Matter Most?

Proverbs 10:8

The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall. 

Open to Instruction

As of this writing, I am about to enter into a new phase of life, a new field of ministry, a place for which I feel a tad bit (maybe more) under-prepared. At the very least, I know that in this new position I will be faced with responsibilities and challenges I’ve yet to encounter; therefore, I have been seeking advice from other pastors who have personal experience.

If there is anything I’ve learned in life, it’s to not think I know everything. If I’m willing to admit I need advice, there’s a good possibility I will be successful in my future endeavors. But advice and counsel are not exactly what is being discussed in the above verse/proverb; we’re talking about “commandments.”

Receiving Commandments

Commandments are not “advice,” but prescriptions for life. They are not given with options; they are our orders – period.

As a matter of fact, they are so important that Solomon (the preacher) tells us in Ecclesiastes that other than fearing God, nothing is more important than keeping his commandments…

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. – Ecclesiastes 12:13

The difference between being open to advice and receiving commandments can be huge! Being open to the wise instruction of others is not the same as being humble and obedient. It’s not all about us; it’s all about God.

Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. – Deuteronomy 13:4

Prating and Falling

When we examine the word “prating” in today’s proverb, what we find is that it means “to open the lips, i.e. to begin to talk”* and carries with it the idea of someone running off at the mouth with as much understanding as the babbling of a brook.

The “wise in heart,” or those whose character is humble enough to know that there’s One who knows all, stands (ironically) in stark contrast to the fool who is so confident in himself that he runs off at the mouth without any regard for the commands of God.

So he falls. Or, rather, is made to fall.

The wise in heart knows he can’t stand in his own strength, but obeys the One who will help him to stand. The prating fool is too busy listening to his own lips that he can’t even hear his Creator, so the fall is not by accident.

LORD, give is a wise heart that listens to and obey Your commands. 


*Wilhelm Gesenius and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles, Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003), 793.


Getting Over Ourselves for the Well Done

Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen. –Proverbs 25:6‭-‬7, KJV

You probably remember the parable of the Wedding Feast as found in Luke 14. Jesus was basically retelling Proverbs 25 verses six and seven.

What are Solomon and Jesus telling us?

Get over yourself.

We live in a very individualistic society that says it’s okay to demand the best treatment and put yourself forward. After all, you deserve it.

But God says “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

That means to not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. (See Romans 12:3)

Just as Christ, who, though was in the form of God, did not count equality with God something to be attained, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (See Philippians 2:6‭-‬7)

Likewise, we should not demand our own way or seek prestige, power, or popularity. (I could be a Baptist preacher with alliteration like that!)

No, we should instead put others first and then say, “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.” (See Luke 17:10)

Then our holy King will draw us close on the last day and say, “Well done, good and faithful servant!”


The Poor Difference

The poor is hated even of his own neighbour: but the rich hath many friends. He that despiseth his neighbour sinneth: but he that hath mercy on the poor, happy is he. -Proverbs 14:20‭-‬21, KJV

There are two different kinds of poor people:

  1. The person who owns little but is responsible and honest: They may be poor in possessions, but also being poor in spirit just means they acknowledge their status and keep striving.
  2. The person who is wasteful and irresponsible: They are poor in possessions, but they are also poor in humility and refuse to accept responsibility for their circumstances. They may even think others owe them.

It is easy to not feel bad (or to strongly dislike or even have hate) for the one who squandered everything and blames others. It is easier to feel sorry for and even be friends with the one who owns little but owns up to their station. (Trust me. I have been there.)

Even a rich person can be poor in humility and therefore be hated.

But God calls us to love the lowly of every type, whether of means or of character. We are not to despise them but show mercy acks kindness.

That may mean a handout (even if we think they may spend or trade it for drugs and alcohol), but it definitely means showing them God’s love, mercy, and grace. For that is what He did for us.


Know-It-All’s Usually Don’t

Proverbs 13:7 stood out to me this morning.

“One man pretends to be rich but has nothing; another pretends to be poor but has great wealth.” – Proverbs 13:7 CSB

The obvious meaning has to do with tangible wealth. So often we see people who give the impression of being wealthy by the cars they drive, the clothes they wear, and the houses they live in. Yet, in many of those cases, the appearance of wealth is all they have.

Sadly, the same holds true with many who appear to be spiritual and wise. Everything on the appearance seems to point toward a godly life, one full of the Spirit and one that walks daily with the Lord. However, so often what we find once the bank account of the heart becomes public is that the spiritual wealth was only pretend – they had nothing.

One red flag to look for in both cases – tangible wealth and spiritual wealth – is how much the wealth is flaunted. So many times the most unassuming are the most wealthy.


Apostolic vs. Appropriated

Two ladies call out to the world in Proverbs 9: Wisdom and Folly.

The difference is actually striking.

[Wisdom] has sent her young women to call from the highest places
Proverbs 9:3

Wisdom sent her followers to the high places, the important places, to call to others.

Did you know the Greek word for “sent” is apestalmena, where we get the word for apostle: one who is sent?

Now look at Folly:

[Folly] takes a seat on the highest places
Proverbs 9:14

Folly takes the highest place, the most important place.

What Is the Difference?

When done apostolically, there is humility. Wisdom does not assume superiority (even when true) over other others but serves others.

Folly assumes superiority and appropriates what is neccessary – takes the important places, often by force and/or deception. There may be a false humility that can be attractive to others, but the true motivations tend to be selfish.

“When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Luke 14:8‭-‬11, NKJV


Ask (and Listen) for Wisdom

All the words of my mouth are in righteousness; there is nothing froward or perverse in them. They are all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge. -Proverbs 8:8‭-‬9, KJV

God does not lie nor deceive.

Why, then, do more people not hear the truth of God’s Word?

People ignore God’s truth or devise ways to disregard it.

Case in point:

But they did not understand this saying, and it was concealed from them, so that they might not perceive it. And they were afraid to ask him about this saying.
Luke 9:45

Firstly, fear and pride might get in their way. They are too intelligent and independent to simply ask (and then listen). Or they are afraid of the implications.

Secondly, God conceals it. Whether this is by not allowing them to understand or simply allowing them to remain ignorant, they never hear the truth.

Further:

For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Romans 1:21‭-‬23

They refuse to understand.

Therefore, break from the mold. Seek truth. “Ask God, who gives generously to all, and he will give wisdom.” (James 1:5)