Humility and Hospitality

Scripture: Luke 14:7-14, NLT

7 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:
8 “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?
9 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!
10 “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.
11 For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
12 Then He turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward.
13 Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.
14 Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”

INTRODUCTION

These verse are connected to 14:1-6, it is all a part of the same story. Jesus gets invited to the home of a leading Pharisee. The pharisees think they have set a trap for Jesus. By putting a man with dropsy in their midst, they are confident that Jesus will heal him and then they will have Him for breaking the Sabbath law but Jesus turns the table on them by asking, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” He puts the monkey on their back. If they say yes, they would be violating their own law; if they say no, they would appear to heartless and cruel. So they plead the 5th and say nothing.


Jesus heals the man and then sends him home but Jesus does not leave. They probably wanted Him to but He doesn’t. While they are sitting in stunned silence, Jesus ceases the moment to teach a couple of lessons: One to the guest and one to the host.

I. A WORD TO THE GUEST: DON’T FIGHT OVER THE SEATS OF HONOR, TAKE THE LOWEST SEAT

Luke 6:46-47

“Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.” 

Rule # 1–Never promote yourself…never commend yourself! Nothing good can come of it, nothing.


[v.11]  For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Ultimately, in the great marriage feast of the Lamb, God will do the seating. Seating the guest is the privilege of the host. Ultimately, God will be our host. This is what David is referring to in the latter part of Psalm 23….

You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever. 


Humility is always the best and the safest policy.


If I am willing to take the worse seat in the house, I have no way to go except up. The safest chair is the lowest. Remember, I am the guest and I have nothing to say about the seating arrangement, so I take the lowest seat. If I take a middle seat or a high seat, the host may come to me and ask me to move to a lower seat. To eliminate that risk, take the lowest seat.


JESUS is not talking to hear His head rattle: this is a LIFE PRINCIPLE to live by.


My mentor, Calvin C. Inman believed in living this principle. He told me repeatedly, “Jack, don’t get too involved in finding a place of service, just be willing to go where God leads. If you were to work yourself into a good situation, you might have doubts as to whether or not it was God who got there. When the times get tough, you are going to need a sense of His call and you will not have that if you get in the flesh and get ahead of God. Let Him move you.

Somehow his words found a lodging place in my feeble brain. I’ve never had a resume other than the one they made me prepare in Seminary. I never mailed a resume in my life and yet God has faithfully given me a place to preach for these 49 years. Why should I doubt Him now.

Could I have served as pastor of Belleview in Memphis had I been more assertive? NO! Could I have served there as pastor if God had put me there? Yes, it would have been a miracle of miracles but nothing is impossible with God. Do I feel like a failure because I have never served a big church or even a city church? NO! Definitely not. I served where God planted me. He could have given me five talents had he wanted to but He gave me one and I am thrilled to have the one.

Be content with what you have, don’t jockey for position. 

We probably have a view of who we think should sit in the seats of honor but we probably have it backwards. Jesus said more than once, there is going to be a great reversal; many who are first now will be last and many who are last here will be first. I have always had a gut feeling that the Martyrs and Missionaries will have most of those seats; it could be children or babies, I don’t know but the HOST will decide who sits where.

II. THERE IS A WORD TO THE HOST: DON’T INVITE THOSE WHO CAN GIVE YOU SOMETHING IN RETURN

Then He turned to his host. “When you put on a luncheon or a banquet,” he said, “don’t invite your friends, brothers, relatives, and rich neighbors. For they will invite you back, and that will be your only reward. Instead, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.  Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”


I believe, I am not sure, that our LUKE 14:14 BANQUET goes back to 1987 or 88. I remember the first because Johnny Hayes and myself, tried to used starter fluid to start the van and it caught fire. It was a small fire but inside the van. The idea came from this very passage.


The holidays can be happy times are stressful times; it all depends on how you approach them. They got stressful for June and I so we made a change. Most of our friends gave us more than we could give in return, so we decided not to give to those who gave to us but to give to those who could not give to us in return.


There is no question: we are indebted to a lot of people. I have a friend who has given to us a cash gift every Christmas since 1976. His gift kept me from being broke on a lot of Holidays.


I have to be honest with you; there are a lot of people who love to criticize Danville Baptist Church. Unfortunately, some of them are members but it is not just members. I don’t know, it would be hard to prove it one way or the other but DBC has given a lot to the community. If we averaged all our BLOCK PARTIES at $10,000 per, that would be an accumulated total of $170,000 since 2,000. We have hosted the LUKE 14 for over 30 years. Trunk-A-Treat is a give-a-way to the community. Yes, we have church member who come to Trunk-A-Treat but the majority are not church members. I have never, to my recall [there may be one exception] had one of the non-members come to me and say, “You have a giving church and we appreciate what you do for the community.” When we are facing a storm of criticism, this bothers me. I am thinks, “Folks, we are the most giving church in the country and all you can do is bad mouth us.”


But some years ago, I read the bottom line: [v.14] Then at the resurrection of the righteous, God will reward you for inviting those who could not repay you.”


Stay humble, live by faith, do the right thing and don’t worry about reward, recompense or recognition. It will come eventually if we stay faithful.

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