Which Comes First?
Which comes first? is a popular expression. I suppose the phrase, “Which comes first, the chicken or the egg?” is the most popular expression of this phrase. Of course, for me that’s an easy one…the chicken came first…I think that’s how God created it. But anyway….there is an interesting verse that speaks to this in verse 33 of chapter 15. Let’s wrap up chapter 15 of the book of Proverbs:
The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous. 30 The light of the eyes rejoices the heart, And a good report makes the bones healthy. 31 The ear that hears the rebukes of life Will abide among the wise. 32 He who disdains instruction despises his own soul, But he who heeds rebuke gets understanding. 33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom, And before honor is humility.
The phrase I’d like to focus on in the very last phrase of verse 33…”and before honor is humility”. I’m not sure that we think about it this way very often…before honor is humility. We celebrate athletic and academic and social success; we give out much honor without looking for humility. Instead, our culture seems to reward brashness and bravado more than humility. The humble athlete is usually not the one who gets the most endorsement offers. But perhaps the honor God is referring to is not the “honor” that we bestow on our celebrities?
Before honor with God comes humility. Humility always precedes honor. You can’t have honor without humility. The greatest biblical text on this idea is Philippians chapter 2 where we read that Jesus humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross; yet after the resurrection, and at the end of time, every knee would bow and every tongue would confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. That’s honor…..preceded by humility. We’ve all known people who were really good at sports or something else; but if they’re not humble about it, we tend to not give them honor.
So if you want honor, don’t try to achieve it by boasting or even by accomplishment. Rather, be humble. God will lift you up and exalt you in due time…humility comes before honor.