I should say right off that it shouldn’t be our top priority to win favor in the eyes of men (or women). Our top priority should be to please God.
But I titled this as such because of what the Bible says of Jesus. Namely,
And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men. (Luke 2:52)
How do we find favor in the eyes of men? Solomon gives us some wisdom about this in this chapter.
First, don’t attempt to exalt yourself in others’ eyes. Let them be the ones to honor you if they so choose.
Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence, and do not claim a place among great men; it is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,” than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman. (6-7)
Jesus alludes to this when talking to the Pharisees in Luke 14.
Further, Solomon writes,
It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one’s own honor. (27)
The interesting thing is that it is when we humble ourselves, that we are often lifted up, both by God and men.
The second thing Solomon says is to not be so quick to accuse people of wrongdoing when you don’t have all the facts. Solomon notes,
What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame? (7-8)
In other words, a person may have a perfectly legitimate explanation for their actions, and if you accuse them, it is you who will be put to shame for your false accusations.
Further, Solomon tells us,
If you argue your case with a neighbor, do not betray another man’s confidence, or he who hears it may shame you and you will never lose your bad reputation. (9-10)
Sometimes, a friend will tell us something in confidence, but in order to prove our case against a person who supposedly wronged us, we quote the friend who gave us the information. Three things can happen as a result. First, the friend may repudiate what he said because he’s afraid of what the person you’re accusing may say or do to him, and also because we broke his confidence. Second, we can lose that friend’s trust by breaking his confidence. Third, we can lose face because we again accuse someone of doing wrong when we have no proof.
In short, if you want to win favor in people’s eyes, be careful when you accuse them of wrongdoing, and don’t break their confidence.
Solomon also tells us we should give words that help others (11), and on the other hand, be quick to listen to rebuke when they’re trying to help us (12).
In our workplace as well in other parts of our lives, we are to prove ourselves trustworthy with the tasks we are given (13, 19), and to fulfill the promises we make (14). We are also to be honest in the things we say (18).
When we speak our words of advice, we are to do so with patience and gentleness (15).
When we visit our neighbors, we should be considerate of them and their time (17).
And when people are hurting, we should be sensitive to their feelings (20).
Finally, we are to watch tongues (23), and to be people who have self-control in general (28).
By doing all these things, we can win favor in people’s eyes.
How do others see you?