True Honor Is in the Eyes of God

Yael Eckstein  |  November 19, 2021

Man in a mask unpacking hot meals to give to the needy.

Before a downfall the heart is haughty,
    but humility comes before honor
. — Proverbs 18:12

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 the most important lessons that I try to instill in my children is the value of humility. I remind them that if they really want to be respected, they should think of ways to be kind, helpful, and most of all, respectful of other people. I always tell them, “Just let your actions speak for you. And even if nobody sees what you do, remember that God sees everything. If God wants people to know what you did so that they will honor you, He’ll make sure they know.”

There is an ancient teaching from the Jewish sages that says, “One who pursues honor, honor runs away from him. One who runs away from honor, honor finds him.” I find this teaching to be particularly meaningful. After all, what brings people honor? The people who are most honored, when all is said and done, are those who have given of themselves for others, people who sacrifice to serve God’s purposes on earth.

True Honor Is in the Eyes of God

Proverbs 18 takes this idea a step further. When people spend their energy trying to get other people to honor and admire them, not only are they being self-centered, but they’re also setting themselves up for disappointment. Since they care so much about what people think of them, they’re usually disappointed when they don’t get the honor they were seeking. And arrogance and pride are just not very endearing traits. As Proverbs puts it, “before a downfall the heart is haughty.”

Humility, by contrast, doesn’t mean that I think I’m worthless. It just means that I’m not focused on myself. It’s not about me. And as Proverbs teaches, the irony is that when we focus on others — without any regard for honor or recognition — people notice that and respect us even more. The result is that humility and selflessness create good feelings among people. Everyone is happier.

It’s not always easy to disregard honor. When we do good things, it’s natural to want some recognition. But we must always realize that the true honor we seek is in the eyes of God.

Your Turn:

Choose an act of kindness that you can do without anyone knowing about it. See how it feels to do something good for others that only God knows about.