Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Best Seat in the House Part III

He went on to tell a story to the guests around the table. Noticing how each had tried to elbow into the place of honor, he said, "When someone invites you to dinner, don't take the place of honor. Somebody more important than you might have been invited by the host. Then he'll come and call out in front of everybody, 'You're in the wrong place. The place of honor belongs to this man.' Red-faced, you'll have to make your way to the very last table, the only place left. When you're invited to dinner, go and sit at the last place. Then when the host comes he may very well say, 'Friend, come up to the front.' That will give the dinner guests something to talk about! What I'm saying is, If you walk around with your nose in the air, you're going to end up flat on your face. But if you're content to be simply yourself, you will become more than yourself." Luke 14:7-11  MSG

What Jesus is teaching here is the opposite of nearly everything we hear today about success. 
It is not easy advice easy to take, because according to Jesus…

1.    The Best Seat in the House is the Least Desired Seat.
We don’t find Jesus making a comment about competition for the seats with less honor associated; not the ones left when all had been picked over.  This teaching really is different than the way we think, isn’t it?

During the American Revolution an officer in civilian clothes rode past a group of new recruits busy repairing a break in a rampart. The work was really too heavy for the size of group working on it. Their commander was shouting instructions, but was making no attempt to help them. Asked why, he replied with great dignity, "Sir, I am a Corporal!" The stranger apologized, dismounted, and proceeded to help the exhausted soldiers himself. When the job was finished, he turned to the corporal and said, "Mr. Corporal, next time you have a job like this, and not enough men to do it, go to your commander in chief, and I will come and help you again." The officer in plain clothes was General Washington.

Most men think like that Corporal.  They want to emphasize their rank over others.  They want to push themselves as high as they can, even if it means stepping on others to do it.  It’s the law of the jungle.  It’s survival of the fittest.  It’s eat or be eaten.  But it’s not what Jesus is teaching here.
One of the reasons we shy away from humility and don’t want to take the last seat is that we fear humiliation.  We’re afraid they might find out what we are really like and think less of us.
This letter to columnist Ann Landers demonstrates how fearful people are of being humiliated and embarrassed by association with common things:

Dear Ann Landers:
I read an item in the CHICAGO TRIBUNE recently that stunned me. It said the most frequently shoplifted item in America's drugstores is Preparation H. I never would have guessed it

Apparently many would rather steal than be humiliated by going through the check stand with such a basic item.  That’s a great comment on human nature, isn’t it?

We cannot admit that we have the same problems as other people! They might think less of us!  Sadly, Christians who hide their fears, doubts, pain or problems project a false image of a faith that brings us through those very same problems everyone faces.  If real Christianity could be expressed, more people would believe it.  False fronts and facades hide nothing more than the reality that, as Paul said in Philippians 3, we are all from the same garbage pile.  We need to squarely face the fact that there are no titles that make us better as men than others.

Scripture to Claim:

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; Philippians 2:3

Devotional Archive