BEFORE HONOR IS HUMILITY
Proverbs 15:33 The fear of the Lord is the instruction of wisdom; and before honor is humility.
Much is spoken concerning Godly fear and the wisdom derived from it. However, the latter part of this proverb is the text for this lesson. Before honor is humility. Honor is the high regard or the great respect given to a person. It is glory, fame, and renown. It is a position of distinction and dignity. It is praise and tribute paid to a person in an exalted position. On the other hand, humility is the state of being humble; the absence of pride or assertiveness. A humble person recognizes his or her shortcomings; is modest and unpretentious. It is an abased position of lower rank and of less importance. Honor, then, is the opposite of humility. The first is an exalted position of praise and honor; the latter is a lowly position of abasement. The lesson text says that one must assume the position of humility in life before honor can be found.
This analogy is taught by Jesus and is recorded by Matthew in chapter 18. There Jesus answers the disciples' question, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? After calling a child to Him, Jesus says, Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven (See Vss. 1-4). The disciples anticipated that Jesus would set up an earthly kingdom with various rankings of superiority. As it was then, and so it is now; the vast majority of people ambitiously seek positions of higher rank and power. However, a child is without such worldly ambition and self-pride. The kingdoms of the world and the kingdom of Christ are polar opposites. Christ's kingdom is to be made up of servants, not masters. Humility and self-abasement are the characteristics that must define true Christians.
We find similar thoughts in the writings of James. God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble (James 4:6). Who can be happier than the person on which God bestows His grace? Happiness and contentment, while here on earth, cannot be found in the proud individuals that seek this world's goods. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up (James 4:10). Submission to the will of God requires complete and genuine repentance. To recognize your faults and short comings, you must be humble and full of self-abasement. The proud have much difficulty doing so because they are filled with self-exaltation.
Jesus gives us a wonderful example of humility that supports the will of God, as well as our lesson text - before honor is humility. This is recorded in Luke 14:1-11. While Jesus took a meal in the house of one of the chief Pharisees, He noticed the social order of their seating. Today's society says that one should seek the highest, most prominent seat in an assembly. No doubt, as people entered the house of this Pharisee, they searched for, and took, the most honored place they could find in the room and around the table. Jesus uses a parable to teach God's law of humility - a law that we should use in all our social affairs. God expects His people to use this law instead the socially acceptable law of seeking pre-eminence.
The parable goes like this. When asked to a social event, such as a wedding, don't seek the highest place to sit. If you do, you may be asked to move to a lower seat when someone of higher social rank enters the assembly. If this happened, it would be very humiliating. Rather, when entering the wedding assembly, we should seek out the lowest place to sit. Then the host may ask you to move up to a more honored place to be seated. Jesus concludes the parable with this law of humility. For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted (Luke 14:11).
A quote from the apostle Peter seems to be an appropriate closing remark. Yea, all of you be subject to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you (1 Peter 5:5-7). In your conduct of life, put this law of God into practice - Before honor is humility. Remember this - Humility is the position in which you should always place yourself, while honor is the position in which others may place you.