While dining with a ruler, pay attention to what is put before you. If you are a big eater, put a knife to your throat; don’t desire all the delicacies, for he might be trying to trick you. Proverbs 23: 1-3
Have you ever met someone who comes across as a bit intimidating? If you have, then you know you know it has the potential to knock you off balance. This proverb is a warning to dining with ‘rulers’, or folks who have power, because they may have ulterior motives as to why they want to meet with you. Basically, beware of being dazzled by their wealth or lavish food. And no, the writer of this proverb isn’t suggesting that you actually put a knife to your throat. That word picture has to do with – you guessed it – self-restraint. In other words, keep your wits about you and remember not all that glitters is gold.
Let’s talk about what’s really going on here. This is the time when you find yourself with someone who brings out that intimidation factor that can be found in all of us. Now, sometimes, the person is intentionally intimidating for the purpose of compliance. Think police or military in their uniform. It’s fashioned that way for a reason ;). And it works!
But that’s not the issue here. The issue is when you find yourself with a person who is using intimidation to control you or have the upper hand. There is something they want from you and one way to get that is for you to feel ‘smaller’. It works, because we’ve all experienced it. Let’s dig into this a little more.
For the person doing the intimidating, there is obviously a need to be in control, to communicate or show that they are greater, more powerful, richer, smarter, etc, then you. However, the fact they need to do this says quite a bit about them. The need to elevate would suggest to me that there are some inferiority issues at work here, and the only way to overcome that is to make you feel smaller. Or perhaps they want something from you and they will go to any length to get it, and if intimidation works, they will employ that tactic.
But to be fair, I must consider the other side of the coin. It’s true that sometimes I sabotage myself when it comes to meeting someone who, in my eyes is ‘more’ than I am. I immediately feel and believe that I am ‘less than’, and in believing that, I have placed myself at a disadvantage. That person may not have an intimidating bone in their body, but because of how I see myself, I therefore see them as intimidating.
So what’s the answer to all of this? It comes down to how I really see myself? The truth of the matter is that in God’s eyes, we are all created equal. We are created equal because
It comes down to the application of wisdom. If you’ve been reading the proverbs over the past three weeks, then you will notice that the wise person leads themselves. Their desires, other people, and situations do not dictate how they live their lives. The wise person has learned to walk humbly with their God. And in that statement, lies the answer. Humility will always trump intimidation. A humble person is aware, not only of their strengths, but also their weaknesses. A humble person is not swayed or captivated by money, sex or power. A humble person is aware that they were created in the image of God, and it’s to God that they owe their life.
A humble posture always triumphs over intimidation.