Finding Wisdom in Humility

Yael Eckstein  |  August 27, 2021

Woman in IFCJ sweatshirt hugging an elderly Jewish woman while they're sitting next to each other.

Wisdom’s instruction is to fear the LORD,
   and humility comes before honor
. — Proverbs 15:33

We continue with devotional thoughts from the Book of Proverbs every Friday. One of the 11 books in the Torah known as the Ketuvim, Hebrew for “writings,” Proverbs is part of the “wisdom tradition,” which also includes Job and Ecclesiastes.

One of my favorite teachings from Jewish tradition is a line in the Talmud which states, “Anyone who chases after honor, honor runs away from him. And anyone who flees from honor, honor finds him.”

When I think about the role models and leaders who I respect the most, it only confirms the truth of this statement. People who accomplish great things with humility are the most inspiring to me. On the other hand, those who are just too eager to receive credit and praise end up diminishing their own accomplishments.

When people are arrogantly obsessed with getting the credit and honor they think they deserve, it often stems from a lack of proper faith in God. More to the point, it comes from a lack of fear of the LORD

Finding Wisdom in Humility

Proverbs teaches us that “wisdom’s instruction is to fear the Lord.” The reason for this is simple. If I think I have it all figured out by myself, why would I ever learn anything? But if I fear the Lord, my main motivation is to fulfill His will, not my own. I don’t trust my own wisdom over His. The result is that my behavior will be wiser and more righteous than whatever I would have thought of on my own. Wisdom is the direct result of obediently following the will of God.

The end of this verse leads directly from the beginning: “and humility comes before honor.” People who humbly submit to God’s will, rather than their own, will be honored for their behavior because of the wisdom and righteousness that everyone sees.

In other words, the verse is not only saying that humility is more important than honor. Humility literally “comes before” honor because it leads to it. That’s the wisdom of humility!

Your Turn:

Let’s pray today for God’s guidance in our lives and to find wisdom in humility and to “fear the LORD.”