Today’s reading is Luke 13:1-14:35.
In Luke 14:7-11, Jesus told about a wedding feast. Don’t go into the feast and take the seat of honor. If you do, there might be someone more honorable and you may be asked to move down. How humiliating. On the other hand, if you take the lower seat, you may be asked to move up. How honoring.
In this story, we see the solution to the two sides of arrogance.
On the first side, we have those who are obviously arrogant. They want the seat of honor. They take the seat of honor. They give no thought that others around them may be more honorable. It is just a foregone conclusion in their mind that everyone else is lucky to have them around. How arrogant.
They may not even realize it. I’ve seen people who come off as arrogant all the while trying to come off like they are the spiritual kings. They go around trying to impress everyone with their spirituality. They have to make sure everyone knows how spiritual they are. They have to make sure everyone knows what they’ve done spiritually and what they haven’t done sinfully. They remind folks about how much they study. They remind folks of how much they know. They consistently have to let others know what their two cents on any given issue is. These folks know how honorable they are and just can’t understand why no one else sees it, so they have to put it on display constantly.
That is one side of arrogance. It needs to be answered by not thinking more highly of yourself than you ought (Romans 12:3). Bring yourself down a notch or two and other people won’t have to. Answer questions when asked. Give advice when it is sought. Offer pointers when requested. Otherwise, back off.
On the second side, we have those who are so apparently humble they won’t ever receive honor. They couldn’t imagine ever being accused of arrogance or pride because they are so lowly and humble. Yet, these extreme displays of humility are nothing more than a pride taken in humility. “Wow, look at me, do you know anybody who is as humble as I am? Don’t you wish you could be as humble as me.” This is the person who will take the lowest seat, but then refuse when asked to move up to do so. “Oh, no. I’m just a humble piece of dirt in the midst of all this greatness.” Preachers have this problem sometimes. I’ve heard guest speakers so heap praises on the local preacher as if to say, “Oh, I’m so awful. I don’t even remotely compare to the guy who preaches here regularly. I’m just a piece of cardboard where a pain of glass usually sits.” I’m sure some guys mean this kind of thing sincerely, but all too often it is a false humility fishing for a compliment.
But in Jesus’ story, if you sit in the lower seat and are asked to move up, you don’t refuse in some grand display of humility. You accept the honor the host bestows on you. You accept it graciously. You accept it humbly. Say thank you. Don’t make a huge display of grandiosity. Don’t give the, “I knew this would happen” look around the room. Certainly, don’t taunt those who have been asked to move down to make way for you.
This is the other side of humility that points out it is not wrong to be honored. Rather, it is wrong to seek the honor of men. When we live honorably, others will honor us. We can accept that graciously. That displays a true humility. Through it all, we continually point others to God who is worthy of all honor.
Remember the two sides of arrogance and humility. Don’t seek for self-honor, but don’t make great displays of refusing the honor offered to you.
***Question: How do you maintain humility?
Keep the faith and keep reading,