Thursday, July 28, 2011

Choose Your Seat

7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9 If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place. 10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”  —Luke 14:7-11

This is one of those dangerous passages of scripture that can be hard to apply to our lives properly. Jesus is challenging us to be more humble so that we can be exalted in God's eyes, which is definitely good, but I say this is dangerous because it raises the question of motive.

It can be really hard to tell if you're actually being humble or not. There's no humility in putting yourself down just to reap rewards, but there's also no humility in putting yourself down just for the sake of putting yourself down. Confused? I guess what I'm trying to say is that there should be only one reason for humility: to glorify God. (Arguably, that should be the only reason we do anything!)

When Jesus sees these guys pushing and shoving and running to get good seats at the table, he doesn't just see their actions, he sees their hearts. He knows their motivation is to exalt themselves. My fear is that, after reading his advice to them, "the humble will be exalted and the exalted will be humbled," I will fall into a bad habit of humbling myself with the goal of being exalted later on. This is really not what He's encouraging here, because to strive for personal exaltation is the very opposite of humility! Rather, He's telling us not this parable to remind us that we should be humble, because there's far more grace in humility than there is in humiliation, and humiliation tends to come from being knocked off our high horse ;)

Would you rather be humble and potentially get moved up to a better seat, or think highly of yourself and probably get told to fly coach?

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