If you have ever been to a chicken house, you would see that the 'pecking order' is a very real thing. You can always tell who is at the bottom of the pecking order because that chicken will have practically no feathers left. Many other chickens will have feathers missing from their heads, necks and backs in various amounts. The chicken with all its feathers intact is the dominant chicken, the cock of the walk.
I raised ducks for about five years, and saw the pecking order at work. When I first had my ducks, they were all friendly to one another. However, as the flock multiplied, the ducks began showing signs of dominance. I remember one particular hen, Flossie Mae, who was chased around and pecked at. She lost quite a few feathers from her head and neck. I adored that little hen. It infuriated me to see how she would be kept back from the food or out of the pond at times. Why would they do that? I had a huge back yard, a nice pond for them, and little duck condominiums I had made for them to sleep and lay their eggs. I provided everything they needed in abundance, and yet they were ugly to one another as they sorted out a dominance that wasn't necessary. It made me so mad to see that!
I imagine God must feel the same way. God created each person in his beautiful image. God provides everything we need in abundance. Yet, we jostle for position. We take abuse from stronger, well-connected, influential people, then turn and dish it out to those who will take it from us. Jesus rebukes people at a dinner party for doing that very thing. In Luke 14, Jesus tells the parable of a wedding banquet. He warns against jostling for position and taking an important seat. The host may come to you and ask you to go sit at a lower spot. Thus, you would be humiliated. Rather, he says, choose a lower position so that the host will come and call you forward. 'For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.' (Luke 14:11)
Jesus goes on to tell the host of the party to invite the broken, hurting, disconnected to his next party. That way, he will not be looking for favors to come back to him. Instead, he will be focusing on blessing those who have no one to invite them to dinner - the widows and widowers, orphans, sick, and hurting. Jesus was basically saying, 'Ask not what others can do for you, but what you can do for others.' Someone once said, 'when you shine the light on others, it reflects well on you.' Perhaps that is the idea Proverbs 15:33 is conveying: Humility comes before honor.
Jesus calls us to upend the pecking order, abolishing schmoosing and abusing. I challenge you to take a look at your work and family relationships. Do you see a pecking order at work? Who is at the low end of the order? How could you reach out to him or her to encourage and build him or her up? Let them know they are gifted and precious to God and you. Such a revolution against the pecking order would do tremendous good to usher in God's love.
Blessed to be a blessing,