Humbled (Luke 14:11)

For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Luke 14:11

The context of this statement is Jesus speaking of people getting together for a feast; a celebration. Jesus tells the folks who are sitting down to a meal with Him that they should, when they go to a celebration, take the least important seat so that the host can come to them and (basically) promote them to a higher station at the table. Likewise, He tells them that they should not take a prominent seat in case someone more important has been invited and they be asked to give up their seat for that person. While there is spiritual wisdom here (and I want to unpack that), there is also a very practical wisdom.

In all things — celebrations, ceremonies, work, even conversation — the modern world is one of shameless self-promotion. We strive to make ourselves seem important. Jesus points out that what happens when we do this is likely to be a demotion. We build ourselves up to be someone important and when someone who actually is important comes along, we are forced to cede the place of preeminence to them. Rather than make ourselves out to be something, we should leave it to those who know us — the host of the celebration — to help us find our place. This is extremely practical advice for someone who, like me, is socially awkward and does not know how to deal with new situations. Perhaps it would be best if I, in those situations, allowed those who know me to establish where I reside in that social structure. It would certainly be less stressful to me. And it comes with two benefits: it does not feed my pride (which needs no feeding, it is quite fat) and it helps promote humility (which I have heard best described as thinking of myself less, not thinking less of myself).

The spiritual wisdom is similar. God has placed each believer in the body to perform certain tasks. Pastors and teachers and evangelists have work to do and it is very important work. It is so very easy to see the very important work and wish that I were likewise important. But it is far better to regard myself as less and find that God has great things planned for me than to think of myself as something and find that God meant for me to clean the church toilets. Whatever task God has for me is necessary and He will equip me for the work, but I must not think much of myself. Let me, instead, think of God’s glory and how I might best serve Him and His people. Then He can come to me at the foot of the table and say, Friend, move up higher (v10).

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