The book of Proverbs contains a number of “better than” passages. The world seems preoccupied with trying to find something that matters – an achievement, a word of praise, fame, a conquered goal. Does it last? Will it be remembered? What really matters? I see people all around me faced with this question; when decisions need to be made, when a tragedy strikes, even just as time goes on and years are added to memories. I woke one morning this week to a strong sense that we need to know what matters. We need to know God. These “better than” passages in Proverbs show us comparisons of a life simply lived, and a life filled with light.
In the arena of GREATNESS, Humility beats Pride.
[Proverbs 12:9] – “Better is the one who is slighted but has a servant, than he who honours himself but lacks bread.”
[Proverbs 16:19] – “Better to be a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”
[Proverbs 19:1] – “Better is the poor who walks in his integrity, than one who is perverse in his lips, and is a fool.”
Humility and pride have always been arch nemeses. One is for God, the other is for Self. One cares about God’s opinion, the other cares about the World’s opinion. Humility does not necessarily mean less, and Pride does not necessarily mean more. What Proverbs shows us is the reason Humility beats Pride; how even with less, Humility more fully satisfies.
The one who is slighted seems to have no honour. Other translations call them a “nobody” or “despised” one. Yet, Proverbs tells us this person has a servant. Who is this servant? This might be someone who could help, wash their feet, clean their home, prepare their meals. Of all the servants we could have, there is One who would most certainly be a servant to the lowly; and that is Jesus. In [Matthew 20:27-28], Jesus describes what greatness looks like in the eyes of God.
“And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
He is the servant King and He dwells with those who have a humble spirit.
[Isaiah 57:15] – “For thus says the High and Lofty One who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.”
To those who honour themselves, take up great spoils in pride, and speak for their own gain, there is a warning. These things will not last and they will not satisfy.
[Isaiah 55:2] – “Why do you spend money for what is not bread,
And your wages for what does not satisfy?
Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,
and let your soul delight itself in abundance.”
So we have a choice, and we have a comparison. If we leave our glory in the hands of God, we can be assured that the Jesus who has the highest place, will serve us a glorious portion. If we seek out our own glory, the reward will be disappointing and fleeting. Better Humility than Pride it seems.
[Proverbs 25:6-7] – “Do not exalt yourself in the presence of the king, and do not stand in the place of the great; 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.”