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. (Proverbs 25:6-7)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. "If you're not first, you're last." "Last one to the playground is a rotten egg." "First come, first served." That's the way the world and our sinful nature think. Like the sea-gulls in Finding Nemo, we're constantly chattering and thinking, "Mine. Mine. Mine."
And then Solomon comes along with God's radical word of divine wisdom: "Do not put yourself forward." Jesus also uses this very Proverb in parable form in Luke 14 when He declares, "Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted." It's another way of saying the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.
What does this mean? It sounds so backwards. Indeed, it is. The wisdom of this Proverb is found in humility, in counting others more significant than yourself. This kind of humility won't come from our sinful, me-first nature. No. This kind of humility comes to us from Jesus crucified. If anyone deserves the title "First," it's Jesus. And yet He became the last one, the least one, and the loser for us. Jesus took the lowest seat possible to save us: He was crucified, dead, and buried.
Jesus baptizes us into His death and resurrection to live in righteousness before God and humility before the neighbor. Jesus places us at the head of His table, in His presence, to feast on His Body and Blood. Jesus, the First One, became the last so that we who were last and lost in sin would be first. For through these backwards ways of God, we are saved. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Lord Jesus Christ, You deigned to dwell Among us here on earth As God with us, Emmanuel, To bring this holy birth. Though rich, You willingly became One with our poverty, That we might share Your wealth and name For all eternity. (O Sing of Christ, LSB 362:4)