Proverbs 25:6-7 (NIV)
Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among his great men; it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before his nobles.
When you are at an event with an important person or someone well known, like a celebrity of some kind, do you try to work your way over to them to snap a selfie or get an autograph? What about in a work situation where some of the “higher ups” are present…people that could have a major impact on your career? Do you make yourself known in order to curry favor, or are you content remaining in the background? Do you ever tell people you “know” someone important, when the truth is, they don’t even know your first name?
An important by-product of wisdom is discretion, and with discretion comes humility, and with humility comes reservation. There is a time to speak up and there is a time to lay low, and the wise person knows the difference. Our pride drives us to want to be noticed, especially by people who can do things for us. We want to be seen as important and we want the trappings that go with actually being important…and so we maneuver and position and “work the room” in order to advance towards our goal. Assertiveness is a good trait most of the time, but without wisdom, it will set you up for a rather public fall.
In Luke 14:8-11 Jesus puts this Proverb into a practical situation:
“When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
At the end of Jesus’ words, he makes a proclamation of fact – a fact that we all should pay very close attention to. If you seek to exalt yourself, in any way and for any reason, you will be humbled. It may happen in a more private way, or it may happen in front of a crowd, but mark Jesus’ words: You will be humbled.