Proverbs 25:6-7 “Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men. It is better for him to say to you, ‘Come up here,’ than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman.”
You know how little kids play a game of “one-upmanship.” “I’m taller than you.” “I’m faster than you.” “I have more toys.” “My toys are more expensive.” You know how it goes. Adults aren’t immune to this, either. Listen closely to people at a dinner party talk about their jobs, or parents brag about their children, or men reminisce about their past athletic achievements.
We are all very insecure creatures by nature. We want the respect and consideration of everyone around us, but we aren’t so sure that we deserve it. Boasting, “exalting” ourselves as Solomon says, is just one way we have of trying to find some reason for others to like us, to respect us.
People will grasp at almost anything to feel good about themselves. God’s people can find security in the love that God and fellow Christians have for us. But exalting ourselves to get over our insecurities only sets us up for a fall.
Exalting ourselves doesn’t just affect how people look at us. The greater problem is with how God looks at us. Boasting and self-righteousness go hand in hand. God’s plan of salvation, on the other hand, works with the humble and the penitent. While we are holding ourselves up to God and telling him what good people we are, we are not allowing him to be our Savior. The solution is for the Lord to crush us with his law, shatter our false pretensions, and drive us to our knees in humility.
Then the Lord has something he can work with.
It is greater to hear our king, our Savior say to us, “Come up here.” He can exalt the humble. When we come to him with empty hands, then he can fill them. When we admit that we are unrighteous, then he can fill us with righteousness. When we admit that we are spiritually poor, he can make us spiritually rich. When we come to him as slaves to sin, then he can set us free.
Jesus lifts us out of our sin and guilt by carrying the load for us. He makes us righteous and holy by giving us his righteousness and his holiness. Jesus invites us to “come up here” beside him, as he raises us to a new status in God’s eyes. He makes us members of God’s family and sets us alongside himself as brothers and sisters–innocent children God loves as his very own.
We don’t have to run around looking for a way to exalt ourselves. We don’t have to worry about ourselves at all. Let Jesus lift you up with his love and grace. Then get on with the work of humbly serving with the confidence and joy that God gives.