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. – Proverbs 25:6-7
While these words might sound like nothing more than ancient advice for dining with royalty, they reflect a deeper truth of Scripture. It’s better for us to humbly wait to be exalted than to exalt ourselves. Unfortunately, that’s not always so easy for us to do. If we are good at something, we want everyone else to notice and give us the proper recognition. If we put a lot of work into a task or project, we want to be praised. Sadly, at times this attitude can even infect our spiritual lives. “Lord, you sure are lucky to have me working in your kingdom!”
We see the exact opposite in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Even though he was the King of the universe, he didn’t come into our world to seek praise and honor. Instead he came to serve and to give his life for our sins, even for our sins of pride and arrogance. Jesus didn’t need to be exalted by men, because he knew that he had the approval of the only one that mattered—his Father in heaven.
It is through our Savior’s perfect life and sacrifice that we can be certain that we have the approval of our Father in heaven. Jesus did everything necessary to make us God’s dearly beloved children, so we don’t need to constantly strive to put ourselves above others. Love for Christ moves us to use our God-given talents to the best of our ability, not to be praised and honored by others, but to glorify our Father in heaven. Even when no one thanks us, or notices our hard work, we can look forward to the day when our heavenly Father will exalt us in heaven and say, “Come up here. Well done, my good and faithful servant.”