Whooo…running late this week…sorry for the short notice on this Sunday’s message.
What’s the most humiliating experience you’ve ever had? What lessons, if any, did you learn from that experience?
It’s not fun to be humbled…and it’s certainly the rare person who has “be more humble” at the top of their day’s plans. But Jesus calls us to humility, in fact, we could say he presents us with the priority of humility in the passage we’ll be looking at this week. We’ll be reading Luke 14:1-14.
Jesus gives us very practical instructions on social etiquette in v7-11…but what do you think a deeper point may be?
Many times we tend to think of humility as a low sense of self-worth. That doesn’t seem to be God’s concept though. How would you describe what humility looks like in practice as you read over this passage?
This will be challenging, but affirming in God’s love at the same time! Hope to see you Sunday!
3 thoughts on “The Humble Priority”
What I like best about the first bit of this passage is that Jesus avoids any sort of ridiculous Harry Potter-esque wandwork in his healing. He decides to join his haters for lunch. Better yet, Jesus decides to heal a guy even though the legalists he’s sharing bread with have developed traditions deeming it sinful. The passage says, “He took him, and healed him, and let him go.” I think that’s awesome. If anyone has ever had a right to be self-important and a bit of a showboat, it’s Jesus. If I get an opportunity to look awesome in front of people that dislike me and talk crap about me, I tend to milk it for all it’s worth. But Jesus straight-up heals the guy and launches right into teaching the Pharisees a thing or two about pride, all without gratuitous wand-waving or muscle-flexing.
To really understand the gravity of Jesus’ teaching on humility, we have to recognize the importance of showing a modest estimate of our own ingenuity and contributions. Augustine wrote that “humility is the foundation of all other virtues” and that without its presence, no other virtue can exist – “except in mere APPEARANCE.” The theological virtues of faith, hope, and love cannot truly be extended until we have a realistic view of ourselves and our worth.
Now, before I come across as a nihilist or some other extreme pessimist, we also have to be aware of the other side of the coin. I’m someone that tends toward self-deprecation and depression, but its obvious that Jesus does not want us to go that route, either.
Jesus notices the Pharisees playing musical chairs, trying to get the sweetest seat in the room. It’s sort of the opposite of what happens at local music venues: the cooler you are, the further you stand from the band that’s playing. You’re too legit to act like you’re impressed by them.
During Jesus’ day, this religious posturing was completely normal. The cooler (or more stiff and religious and boring) you were, the closer you got to sit to the more reputable stiff religious and boring people. Jesus turns this cultural norm on its head, warning all of us to be careful of self-promotion.
Instead, He says that we should take the lower position, and allow God to move us up. OKAY, that sounds good and all, but it’s a hell of a lot harder to do with humility.
The real danger here, in my opinion, is truly BELIEVING that we are acting with humility when we are not. A lot of times, I tend to be vocal about the position/attention that I am giving up in favor of LOOKING humble. How many people have you known someone that grumbles about the fact he/she is fasting, or about doing something charitable for a neighbor? How many people do you know that subtly brag about their contributions to a particular ministry?
How many times have we CHOSEN the worst seat, just so that people will notice how humble we are? This is pride in one of its most sinister forms. As Christians, we have to be extremely careful of reaching for positions that can only really be given to us by a God who loves us. In the same manner that we cannot earn the grace we have received through Christ’s sacrifice, we cannot earn humble hearts SOLELY by outward expressions of service.
Really, it all comes down to communicating our desires to Jesus. He has called us to the seat that isn’t in the limelight, and we SHOULD go to the back of the room willingly. We have to trust that Jesus can help us in the fight against our tendencies to scheme and to serve ourselves. Jesus deserved the best seat in the house, but took the broken seat at the back beside the man with dropsy. But we know that He was moved up to a throne above all others.. made the King of kings and Lord of lords. We have to trust that our service is noticed by GOD, and to stop caring about the opinions and expectations of religious folk.
I want to stop seeking the best seat in the room. I want to be more like Jesus and less like the Pharisees jockeying for position. Swallowing pride is much easier said than done, though. It’s something to pray for, anyway. I’m excited to see what you have to say about this passage, Rob.
I have tried for years to understand humility and continue to try and apply it to my daily life. I look to Jesus for the answer. He could have easily come to earth and demanded obedience. He could have forcefully ruled over all. But he didn’t. He lived as a glowing example of how we should live. He served others…all others..even those that the society at that time deemed as beneath him. He lived as though nothing and no one was beneath him. I see his example of humility as a quiet strength. In our society, I think we should live as though no one and nothing is beneath us. We should serve others before we serve ourselves. Imagine how the world would be….
Well put Keep up the good work. I do like the way you have composed this specific issue. Thanks.