(Luke 14:7-11 HCSB) 7 He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noticed how they would choose the best places for themselves: 8 “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, don’t recline at the best place, because a more distinguished person than you may have been invited by your host. 9 The one who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in humiliation, you will proceed to take the lowest place. 10 “But when you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ You will then be honored in the presence of all the other guests. 11 For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
I have to admit that sometimes I become frustrated with Christians who have adopted the self-help, self-promotion, self-exalting mentality of our society. Before you tune me out, let me affirm that we should have confidence in who we are in Christ. We should never be ashamed of who we are in Him. After all, Jesus did die so that we could live. And, He did say, “A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” (John 10:10 HCSB) Jesus provides a life that is clearly better than any life we could manufacture for ourselves.
I’m always amazed at the profiles of the people God chooses. They are seldom the smartest, most gifted, best, top of the line…. Honestly, some of the most effective people who have ever lived have come from the bottom of the barrel! We spend crazy amounts of time and money trying to better ourselves; to position ourselves in a worldly system only to discover that God is the one who exalts AND humbles whom He chooses.
In Luke 14, Jesus uses a parable to instruct his followers on the topic of humility. He warns them that selfishly choosing the highest places of honor could actually work against them, rather than for them. He points out, “don’t recline at the best place, because a more distinguished person than you may have been invited by your host. The one who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in humiliation, you will proceed to take the lowest place.” In other words, we must know our place and remain in it. If God needs us “up higher” He will make the necessary arrangements to exalt us at the right time. And the right time is seldom about our glory–but His!
There may be a secondary application in this passage as well. I believe that many of us have “God-moments” that propel us into a place of supernatural effectiveness. God “moves us higher” for a particular purpose at a specific time. Think Gideon, the woman and her alabaster box, John the Baptist, Esther; people who were selected for a specific task in a strategic moment. God positioned them so they could fulfill His purpose through them. “Moving up” happens at His discretion! “When you are invited, go and recline in the lowest place, so that when the one who invited you comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ You will then be honored in the presence of all the other guests.” Jesus encourages His followers to assume the lowest position of honor and leave the exalting to Him!
As Jesus often did, He spoke in parables which required further explanation. In this instance, He clarified the parable with these words, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
Be patient. Stay humble. Develop your inner heart rather than trying to position yourself for advancement. God knows who you are, where you are, and when you are needed. And when your time for advancement comes, you will hear Him say, “Friend, move up higher.”
PRAYER: Father, I understand that balance is a key to effectiveness. If I’m too critical of myself, I will be hesitant when You do call on me. And, if I’m too conceited, people will tune me out. Help me to stayed in balance and to respond positively when I hear You say, “Friend, move up higher.” Amen!