Now he told a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the places of honor, saying to them, “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in a place of honor, lest someone more distinguished than you be invited by him, and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person,’ and then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in 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 table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:7-11
Growing up, one of my favorite movies was Mulan. In case you haven’t seen it, a young woman named Mulan is expected to gain honor for her family by acting in a specific manner. In the midst of her striving to do so, Mulan’s aging father is called to service in order to defend China. Rather than following what is expected of her, Mulan disguises herself and takes her father’s position in the army. She chooses to sacrifice her position, her name, and potentially her life in order to protect her father. Instead of following expectations, she brings her family honor by going against convention and saves China.
In this passage, the Pharisees believed something similar. They needed to follow a specific set of rules in order to receive honor and be seated at the head of the table. In this culture, status was everything. Having one’s name known to others often became more important than serving God and others. However, Jesus tells the Pharisees it’s better to take the lowly place at the table. It’s in that space that they could be raised up to the place of honor.
How often do we find ourselves putting our needs or desires in front of others? In doing this, we are raising ourselves into that position of honor at the table rather than taking the lowly place and putting others before ourselves. This week, actively focus on putting others before yourself. This could mean letting others choose where to go to lunch, allowing someone to go ahead of you in line, or completing chores for your spouse or roommate when you’d rather be relaxing.
Father God, thank You for sending Your Son to us. Thank You for His example and His teachings. Allow us this week to follow His example and set others before ourselves. Help us to identify moments where we can take on that servant’s heart and exalt others through our actions. In Your mighty name, Amen.
By John Egland