Wait for the Invitation
"When Jesus noticed that all who had come to the dinner were trying to sit in the seats of honor near the head of the table, He gave them this advice: ‘When you are invited to a wedding feast, don’t sit in the seat of honor. What if someone who is more distinguished than you has also been invited? The host will come and say, ‘Give this person your seat.’ Then you will be embarrassed, and you will have to take whatever seat is left at the foot of the table! Instead, take the lowest place at the foot of the table. Then when your host sees you, he will come and say, ‘Friend, we have a better place for you!’ Then you will be honored in front of all the other guests. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.’” Luke 14:7-11, NLT
Jesus used the parable of a wedding to give us great advice on the problem of pride and the honor of humility.
In a nutshell, He described many guests who wanted the seat of honor. They wanted to be seen in the most important chair. The most visible place. The seat that would be recognized and esteemed.
Jesus pointed out that by presuming to appoint themselves to the seat of honor they ran the risk of being embarrassed and demoted when someone who was more distinguished arrived at the wedding and was given the seat of honor.
Instead, Jesus suggested that we take the lowest place at the end of the table. The seat that might be least recognized. The place that was not visible. Perhaps, the least important chair. That way, if the host – the person in charge – wanted you to sit in the seat of honor he or she could invite you to take that place where you would be honored in front of all the guests.
This is a huge life lesson. It’s particularly important this time of year when students are graduating from college, bringing home their Master’s degree, earning their ministry and leadership training credentials, beginning new jobs, joining internships and getting started in life, careers or ministry. We discussed some of these things recently with graduates and interns at our own church; so let’s talk about it in today’s devo.
Often people in a season of graduation and commencement are full of zeal, passion, idealistic ideas and an elevated view of themselves. With a fresh diploma in hand and a few years of schooling under their belts, they can be tempted to presume and assume the seat of honor in their new place of employment, their internship or home church.
I remember well the lecture we received right before we finished our first year of Bible training. One of the professors told us that when we returned home and got involved in ministry at our home church, we were not to seek the seat of honor. Instead, we were to demote ourselves in our own thinking. We were to keep our thoughts to ourselves, our opinions silenced and our mouths shut. We were not to tell our pastor or boss or supervisor all the things he or she was doing wrong and how we could fix them. We were not to be know-it-alls, smart alecks, arrogant little Bible-heads or think more highly of ourselves than we ought. Instead, we were to return home with a humble, servant heart and take the lowest seat available. We were to offer our time and services to the leaders of our church. We were to be willing to do whatever was needed, whether it fit our preferences or not. If our pastor needed us to clean the toilets, we would clean them until they sparkled. If the church, or our employer, needed us to mow the grass, we would make it immaculate. If a door of opportunity opened for us, we were to arrive early, stay late and leave the seat of honor open for someone more important. We were not to promote ourselves; we were to serve others and trust God to promote us as He saw fit.
What a massive paradigm shift from the way the world operates. In the world’s system – we aren’t humble – we are arrogant, full of ourselves and we make sure everyone knows who the alpha dog or the queen bee really is. In the world’s system we don’t prefer others; we compete, lie, cheat and outdo others to get our way. In the world’s system, we don’t trust God to promote us or open doors; we gossip, create strife, murmur and do everything in our own power to push ourselves to high places. The world’s way is one way to succeed in life and ministry.
God has a better way. Jesus said that if we want to be great in God’s kingdom, we would have to become the servant of all. God said if we wanted to be exalted, we would have to humble ourselves. The Lord said that if we want to be first, we should start off by being last. If we want the seat of honor, we’ll have to trust God and start with the lowest seat at the table.
Today, make a decision to do things God's way. Don’t push, presume or force your way to the top. Be humble and wait for the invitation!
Say It: “Father, forgive me for presuming and taking the seat of honor. I see how presumptuous and arrogant that approach is. Today, I choose to humble myself. I choose the lowest seat. Help me to identify what that looks like in the context of my life, internship, job or ministry opportunities. I will trust You to promote me to the seat of honor at the right time and the right place. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”