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The Glory in Humility

July 26, 2020 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Topic: humility Verse: Luke 14:7–14:14

Theme: Self-affirmation must give way to Divine assessment.

Introduction: Pride is a core sin that characterizes every sinner. We look out for ourselves, wanting the best for ourselves that we can get. Instead of preferring others, the proud will prefer himself. Such perspectives are contrary to the new nature that a believer receives when he is saved. Instead, we are commanded to “do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5).

In our text today, the crass nature of pride is displayed as people were guilty of self-promotion, considering themselves worthy of places of honor. This scenario provided by God’s Spirit is a parable designed to teach the problem of self-righteousness and the damning impact of failing to concern oneself with what God thinks of you. 

I. The Problem: Assumptions of Honor – 14:7-9

A. The Witness of Self-Affirmation – v. 7

  • Apparently, the exchange with the “lawyers and Pharisees” who had attempted to trap Him with the man with “dropsy” had occurred right away upon entering the house – even before they had been seated.
  • He silenced them and then watched them in their silence jockeying for just the right seat at the table.
  • As a result of what Jesus saw, Jesus identified a serious problem that often plagues people who lack the humility of meeting Christ – “And He began speaking a parable to the invited guests when He noticed how they had been picking out the places of honor at the table, saying to them …”
  • The “invited guests” to whom Jesus “began speaking” were the upper echelon of the religious community – the “leader of the Pharisees” would not have included those who were deemed “inferior.”
  • So, these men were an exclusive club of people who had “made it,” that is, they were the religiously “in” group of people.
  • They all felt superior to those around them – and even felt superior to one another as each man was positioning himself in “the place of honor.”
  • This idea of “picking out …”  [ἐκλέγομαι] – has the idea of calling a seat – (eg. “shot-gun!”)
  • They were all interested in “the places of honor” [πρωτοκλισία] – from “preeminent seat” – nearest to the host.
  • This was a constant point of self-promotion of which the Pharisees were renown – cp. Matthew 23:6; Luke 11:43;  20:46.
  • Each of them felt worthy to be “first,” they saw their performance as qualifying them as worthy of honor and competed with rivals for the most prestigious seat.

B. The Warning against Self-Affirmation – vv. 8-9

  • Jesus observes this showcase of raw pride and self-righteousness and decides to rebuke it as evidence of raw unworthiness.
  • He says to them: “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for someone more distinguished than you may have been invited by him.”
  • He chooses to use a “wedding feast” as the context of his rebuke since it is where all the most important people are assembled.
  • Later, we will see who are the “more distinguished” [ἔντιμος] – a reference to someone who is highly regarded because of personal quality: the quality of humility, contrition, and dependence.
  • Those who see themselves as the most qualified, most honorable, most desirable will be rejected and humiliated by the host – “… and he who invited you both will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then in disgrace you proceed to occupy the last place.” – cp. Proverbs 25:6-7.
  • Jesus isn’t giving a general etiquette lesson here – He is within a few months of His death; His interest is in the salvation of sinners.
  • His point is that people who are spiritually proud and believe they are honorable in the Kingdom of God because of their own self-affirmations will be rejected by God who will prefer those who see themselves as unworthy and only present because of grace.

Application:

  1. What causes a person to believe that they are worthy of honor?
  2. Have you ever been embarrassed because others have failed to affirm your assessment of your own worthiness?
  3. When was the last time that you practiced preferring others to yourself?

II. The Propriety: Abasement in Humility – 14:10-11

A. The Perspective of Humility – v. 10

  • Jesus clarifies that it is the humble, dependent person who is honored – “But when you are invited, go and recline at the last place, so that when the one who has invited you comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will have honor in the sight of all who are at the table with you.”
  • Those who would go to the “last place” are those who consider themselves blessed to even be there.
  • The self-righteous looks upon others as inferior – thinking theirs is the rightful place of honor – cp. Luke 18:9-14.
  • Humility is the perspective that looks upon oneself with an accurate view – not thinking more highly than one ought given their sin – cp. Romans 12:3, 16.
  • The reason that a person chooses the “last place” is not in hope of promotion – but because humility genuinely prefers others – cp. Philippians 2:3.

B. The Path to Honor – v. 11

  • The general principle that Jesus provides distills these principles into an axiom – “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
  • God is the only one who is qualified to humble the proud and exalt the humble – Proverbs 16:5; 1 Peter 5:5-6.
  • God possesses great affection for the humble but spots the proud from afar – Psalm 138:6.
  • Thus, the only way to find honor in the eyes of God is to seek to address the problem of your sin – to come to Him through Christ alone – claiming His merits, not your own – Romans 10:3-4.
  • Jesus is addressing the problem of self-righteous self-affirmation that characterized the religious hypocrites – indicating that there is a difference between being righteous and merely thinking you’re righteous.
  • Lest you are plagued by the dangers of misdiagnosing your own heart, look at the source of your righteousness: is it by faith in Christ and His accomplishments, or by your own efforts and performance that your favor with God rests?

Application:

  1. How does humility factor into a person’s ability to confess sin?
  2. How does the invitation to “move up higher” compare to God’s action of forgiving us of sin? 
  3. Can you trust God to exalt you when you are humble before Him? Why or why not?

 

III. The Priority: Assessment in Heaven – 14:12-14 

A. The Incentive for Self-Righteousness – v. 12

  • Jesus directly confronts his host on these matters – “And He also went on to say to the one who had invited Him, ‘When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your neighbors, otherwise they may also invite you in return and that will be your repayment.’”
  • “repayment” [ἀνταποδίδωμι] – carries the idea of reciprocity – that is, when you do it for men, from men you receive what they have to offer, and it will be of like kind.
  • Knowing what motivates them – their lust for affirmation by others, the affording of prestige, position, and preeminence – Jesus calls on them to concern themselves with something greater. 
  • Self-righteousness and sanctimony serve to fuel self-promotion, self-affirmation, and pride.
  • Genuine righteousness has completely different motivation – the glory of God and the reward to be received from Christ in the age to come. 
  • However, as long as they are living for the affirmation of others, they will not truly serve God – cp. John 5:44; Matthew 6:1-2, 5. 

B. The Investment in Eternal Reward – vv. 13-14

  • Instead, Jesus informs us, that “when you give a reception, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed, since they do not have the means to repay you …”
  • These four categories of people were dependent, reliant on the benevolence and charity of people who would sustain them out of mercy.
  1. “the poor” [πτωχός] – no money
  2. “the crippled” [ἀνάπειρος] – no mastery
  3. “the lame” [χωλός] – no might
  4. “the blind” [τυφλός] – no means
  • Essentially, Jesus’ point is that caring for these people is not motivated out of a desire to get anything from them.
  • However, when God repays you, it is with incomparable blessing – “… for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”
  • Those who truly believe – and have thus gained the blessing of reconciliation with God have been made partakers of the divine nature through regeneration.
  • As a result, their concern is not the affirmation by man, nor the temporal advantages that others have to provide to us, but the eternal blessings that God has reserved for those who love him and demonstrate that love through their obedience – cp. Acts 24:15-16.

Application:

  1. Is the esteem of others the signal of success for you?
  2. How does showing mercy to people who are oppressed economically or physically properly demonstrate one’s faith? 
  3. Are you living for God’s reward in eternity or for man’s rewards currently?

Considerations:

- You don’t have to fear that God might not have the compassion for you that He has had for others – He cares about your situation.

- When we are “disappointed” by Jesus’ “failure” to show compassion to us in the ways that we desire, we must back up and consider that His compassion is being demonstrated to us in other ways.

- When we desire for God to show no compassion to someone we dislike, we must consider that we are in no more worthy state than they are.

- Our sense of gratitude to the Lord for His compassion toward us must translate into our compassion for others.

- Do not scorn the compassion of Christ who desires to forgive you of your sin – and He calls on you to come to Him to find compassion, mercy, and grace.