Luke 14:8-11, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honor, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
At first glance this appears to be an Emily Post entry to the bible. I appreciate this passage so much because of its spiritual and practical applications. I am not a person who desires to be toward the front of any situation. We could go into that but it may take a phone call.
Perhaps it is because I am 5’10”, so say at a baby shower, if I am in front no one will even see any guest of honor, unless they are elevated. I feel more comfortable hanging out on the back wall, just watching and yelling out my comments intermittently, which is so much ruder.
Bear with me for a second, because I see this small social example of humility as evidence of a larger spiritual issue of humility. As I say all of the time, this is a heart issue.
Let’s look at another heart issue, submission. Submission does not have to be THE loaded word. If you are a Christian, you have been submitting to God all of your Christian life…right? We submit to God’s authority, to His sovereignty. This means that I believe that He is the boss, but in the midst of amazing love and respect.
We submit to other relationships. We put others interests ahead of ours. Think of the ways that we long to serve our family and close friends through acts of kindness, perhaps we are even acting under their counsel. There are just people that we know we can trust and we submit to them all the time. Have you ever had to say that you are sorry?
Jumping ahead, by the time we get married, submission is mostly a bad word. How dare he think that I am going to do whatever he says…blah, blah, blah. That is not submission. Submission is something that we should have learned to do in our relationship with God and others way before we took the big leap. If we had learned it properly, then it would not scare us so much.
So, submission in marriage can show, in the most unflattering way, what we understand about submission to the Father. It certainly did for me. I had to learn what submission was under God’s sovereignty before I could understand that my husband was not going to chain me to the stove. See, large spiritual issue reflected in earthly relationship.
Now, we have humility. If someone is bold enough to walk into the dinner party and sit themselves down next to the head of the table, they might get taken down a few notches when they are asked to look at the place cards. Humility is another heart issue that exudes from our relationship with the Father. Who would this person be when he is alone with God?
Luke 18:10-14, shows us spiritual humility, “’Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’”
This passage beautifully demonstrates the heart of humility with the Father. This is the heart that in any situation can now consider himself the least, even at a swanky dinner party. He recognizes that he is a sinner. He beats his breast as he is broken by the weight of his shame. When he walks away he is justified, it is done. That is where I long to be. I want to genuinely present myself before the Father, and that means in humility.
Sometimes, I opt to battle these issues of pride and rebellion on my own and I never get anywhere. Instead of doing the hard work self-evaluation and asking God if I am pleasing Him in my relationships, I simply claim my short-comings as part of this life. Essentially, I play the “that is just who I am” card.
It is not. I was not created to be a lone ranger, pompous, callous, self-absorbed, easily frustrated and lazy. It sounds so obvious when I write it down, but I assure you this has been hard work, but worth it. Join with me in asking God if He is pleased with the relationships in your life. Is there something that He wants to deal with in you? Make it an act of worship to become yourself, fully.
Father, thank you for your constant authority. Take us today into your hands and mold us. Discard the excuses and denial. Make us useful to the work of your kingdom. Let us celebrate the sovereignty of who you are.