“A person’s pride will bring humiliation, but one who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.”Proverbs 29:23
Jesus’ world was a “shame-honor” culture. The whole aim of life was to be honored, to receive honor, to have a place in the village that was respected. To lose “honor” was to find “shame.” Shame could be caused by one’s own deeds, or by failing to care for others, especially in Proverbs to care for the poor and one’s parents and family. Everything in such a culture was oriented toward obtaining and preserving honor.
The teachers and rabbis thus warned against lifestyles that were fated to lose honor, and pride was such a bane on honor. Better to receive honor as a gift from others, than to promote one’s own honor only to lose it. Honor could only be bestowed. To assume it as a right was a tragic mistake.
Hence the jolt and jarring of the Cross. There was no “honor” in crucifixion. But Jesus was granted honor by his loving Father who raised his “only begotten Son!” Honor is given, not assumed.
I remember entering an African American church to attend the funeral of their delegate to Annual Conference. I sat down in an open seat at the very back. Soon I felt one of the ushers touch me, and unexpectedly found myself in the chancel to eulogize the departed saint. I confess I was flabbergasted, not very prepared, but deeply moved by their gift of “honor.” So think, whom can you honor with grace and love? It is a gift best, given to those who sit in the back seat, to those who are not seeking it!
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