“Do not put yourself forward in the king’s presence or stand in the place of the great, for it is better to be told, ‘Come up here,’ than to be put lower in the presence of a noble.” (ESV)
We live in the day of the self-made, internet-created celebrity. YouTube has been the source of numerous stars today. So have Instagram and Snapchat. To become such a person you must promote yourself. Relentlessly. You must be constantly on the lookout for opportunities to get other people to pay attention to you. And, if you have the right blend of talent, gumption, and luck, you can make a lot of money this way.
And yet, what is ultimately the fruit of such an endeavor? Given the stories about or often the character of such folks, it’s not good. We live in a celebrity-worshiping culture. We are constantly on the lookout for people to elevate to celebrity status in order to give them our devotion. In doing so, we not only debase our own lives, but also the lives of the people being worshiped.
Still, many recognize this celebrity worship and crave it. They crave it and so they do whatever they can to gain it for themselves. Yet again, what good does this do? Wisdom and observation would again answer: Very little.
What Solomon calls for here is a much better way: Do your best where you are and let it be recognized naturally. Let your godly character be the thing everyone notices about you first and foremost. Become known as a person who can be depended upon when things get tough. Produce work that lifts people up and points away from you to God.
If you are advancing yourself and your image, you just may get the acclaim you seek, but there is a very good chance it will come at the expense of your soul. And with that sold away, when the acclaim departs (for self-sought acclaim nearly always departs much sooner than we expect it to) what will you have left? Instead, glorify God in all things and let the chips fall where they may. He will receive the acclaim now, and you will receive acclaim from Him when the time is right. That will be a fame that won’t fade.