04/17/17 Humble or Humbled?

READING: 2 Samuel 1-2, Luke 14:1-24

“Do not take the place of honor.”

Luke 14:8

I’ve seen it happen, and you probably have, too. People who want to climb ladders do so by intentionally getting close to others who can help them ascend the next rungs. I’ve seen it happen in the corporate world, the educational world, and even in the church world. To be honest, I sometimes see it in my young seminary students, who assume that knowing the right person is the easiest way to get the best job. They probably come to that thinking honestly, though, because they’ve learned it from others of us who do the same. Like me.

I wish I could say that I’ve never followed that pattern, but I can’t make that claim. I, too, thought that getting to know the right people was the way to get recognition and position. I’m sure I used the innocuous term, “networking,” to name that process, but that word did not reflect the evil of my jealous, idolatrous, and fame-seeking heart. In the picture of today’s reading, I was guilty of wanting to sit at the best seat in the banquet in order to get closest to the host.

Jesus’ words could thus not be any clearer today. Speaking to folks who had gathered at the home of a Pharisee—and who apparently were “picking out the places of honor at the table” (Luke 14:7)—Jesus warned them about their actions. If you choose the best seats, He said, it’s possible that the host will bring in somebody who is more distinguished, in which case you might be moved to make room for the new guest. Then, “in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place” (Luke 14:9). If you sit in the last place from the beginning, however, it’s possible that the host might later invite you to the best seats. In either case, the lesson is the same: it’s better to be humble than it is to be humbled.

Jesus’ words, though, were not limited in application to this world. They likely spoke about the final judgment, when “everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). If so, how we live today matters – and sitting in the not-so-good seats in the world’s eyes should not bother us.

ACTION STEPS:

  • Honestly evaluate your own heart. Do you seek the best seats? If so, confess your sin to God.
  • Live humbly today, not worrying about your seat.

PRAYER: “God, help me to be grateful for any seat that brings honor to You—not to me.”

TOMORROW’S READING: 2 Samuel 3-5, Luke 14:25-35