Pride, Shame, Humility & Honor
Be not proud of race, face, place, or grace. - Charles Spurgeon
Pride is the carbon-monoxide of Sin. It silently and slowly kills you without you even knowing. - Tim Keller
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.”
The Messiah’s Observation
The Messiah’s Observation
The setting is still the same as in verses 1-6. He is having a meal at one of the religious leader’s homes. He challenged them in their religious hypocrisy. Now, he is going to give them additional instruction. He does so by telling a story, a parable. If you recall a parable is an earthy story that communicates a spiritual truth. Jesus uses common realities to help his hearers understand deeper realities.
Luke gives his readers the reason Jesus began to tells this parable. when he noticed how they chose the places of honor - Jesus observed something about their actions. They picked for themselves the best seats. R.C.H. Lenski writes concerning the places of honor, “The chief reclining places at table were those on the left end of each couch (not those in the center as some suppose), for the person reclining there had the fullest view of the table and the guests while those toward the right end had to bend back in order to see.” In this time, the best seats were given based upon societal rank, reputation or age.
In all honesty, this type of action is pretty much common place among humanity. For example, what parking space do you look for when you go shopping? What seats do you desire when you are at a sporting event or play watching your children or grand-children? How many cars do you allow to get in front of you when there is a lane that is ending? Jesus sees something that he wants to address and he does.
The Messiah’s Admonition
The Messiah’s Admonition
When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast - The occasion is that a person has asks you to attend a special gathering, which includes a meal. This occasion is similar to the one that his hearers are attending at the moment.
Do not sit down in a place of honor - Jesus commands them to do the exact opposite of what he has observed them do. He tells them to avoid seeking the highest seat or the best seat for themselves. This reveals the silliness of their actions. When they sought the best place for themselves, they have simply honored themselves. They have made the determination that they are deserving of honor. Others have not honored them, but they have made themselves something special. But there is a risk in this short-sighted, selfish way of thinking.
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’ - Here is the issue. If their view of their own reputation and rank was wrong, the host would be forced to remove from their place in order to seat someone of higher rank. The host would not offend one of higher rank simply because someone thought more of themselves than they should have. Jesus continues with the result.
And then you will begin with shame to take the lowest place - This would be the walk of shame. Jesus said they would be humiliated. It is important to note that this concept of shame or humiliation is not synonomous with humility. Let me give you an example (CNB-Times Classic Basketball Tournament removal).
The Messiah’s Recommendation
The Messiah’s Recommendation
In contrast, to choosing the best seat for themselves, Jesus gives an alternate approach. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place - On the occasion, choose for yourselves the least honored place. He tells them to choose the place of the lowest ranking person. Instead of taking the best seat in the house, take the worst. Why?
So that when your host comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ - Jesus plays of their desire to be honored in the presence of men. The scenario has the one giving the dinner seeing a person of higher rank seated at the lower place. In this case, they will be invited to move up closer to the host seating. What will be the result of this action?
Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at table with you. - Instead of the first result or shame from having to move down, there is the sense of recognition and glory. Wow! Those gathered at the meal would be impressed that you were asked to move close to the host. This person must be important. This person must be a distinguished guest.
The Messiah’s Declaration
The Messiah’s Declaration
Here, we have moved from the story to the point of the story. Jesus is constantly attempting to help the religious types get it right in regards to their relationship with God and others. He gives the final instruction on this subject with a proverbial saying that highlights the spiritual realities in regards to pride, shame, humility and honor. In the two parts of the following saying, God is actively involved.
For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled - The person seeks their own honor as a motivating influence based upon a prideful determination of their own value and importance will be brought low. This warning strikes that the Pharisaical religion of earning God’s favor through law observance. This warning strikes at the heart of hypocritical religion that finds ultimate value in the way things seem to be or in the way things look.
And he who humbles himself will be exalted - In contrast, the person that does not have a high and convoluted view of themselves and brings himself low will be lifted up by God. The essence of humility is dependence on God. Jesus is calling the Pharisees and lawyers to realize that they cannot save themselves and need to trust God’s provision of grace in him, the Messiah. Humility knows that human works have no saving merit and one must depend on God to save and rescue. Jesus reminds them of what has always been true in God’s economy or way of doing things. The humble will be lifted up and favored by God in the end.
One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.
Before destruction a man’s heart is haughty, but humility comes before honor.
For you save a humble people, but the haughty eyes you bring down.
For though the Lord is high, he regards the lowly, but the haughty he knows from afar.
How should we then live? Two main categories of application:
1) Unbelievers - Pride is ultimately what keeps you from being right with God by becoming a follower of Jesus. Wave the white flag of surrender. Give up on your own way and trust God’s way in Christ. He is the only way.
2) Believers- God hates all pride, but unrepentant pride in a believer is most ugly, most contradictory and most damaging.
George Whitefield writes, “We have nothing but what we have received, and therefore to be proud of our titles, wealth, knowledge, success, or any temporal advantages by which the providence of God has distinguished us — is downright sinful! For those who confess themselves to be ‘sinners’, and therefore deserving of nothing but misery and wrath — to be proud of those peculiar blessings which are derived from the gospel of God’s grace — is a wickedness of which even the demons are not capable of!”
Questions to identify a prideful spirit. Nancy Leigh DeMoss Wolgemuth
Do you look down on those who are less educated, less affluent, less refined, or less successful than yourself?
Do you think of yourself as more spiritual than your mate, others in your in your church?
Do you have a judgmental spirit toward those who don’t make the same lifestyle choices you do . . . dress standards, how you school your kids, entertainment standards, etc.?
Are you quick to find fault with others and to verbalize those thoughts to others?
Do you have a sharp, critical tongue?
Do you frequently correct or criticize your mate, your pastor, or other people in positions of leadership (teachers, youth director, etc.)?
Do you give undue time, attention, and effort to your physical appearance—hair, make-up, clothing, weight, body shape, avoiding appearance of aging?
Are you proud of the schedule you keep, how disciplined you are, how much you are able to accomplish?
Are you driven to receive approval, praise, or acceptance from others?
Are you argumentative?
Do you generally think your way is the right way, the only way, or the best way?
Do you have a touchy, sensitive spirit? Easily offended? Get your feelings hurt easily?
Are you guilty of pretense? Trying to leave a better impression of yourself than is really true? (Would the people at church be shocked if they knew what you were like at home?)
Do you have a hard time admitting when you are wrong?
Do you have a hard time confessing your sin to God or others? (not just in generalities but specifics)
Do you have a hard time sharing your real spiritual needs/struggles with others?
Do you have a hard time praying aloud with others?
Are you excessively shy?
Do you have a hard time reaching out and being friendly to people you don’t know at church?
Do you resent being asked or expected to serve your family, your parents, or others?
Do you become defensive when you are criticized or corrected?
Are you a perfectionist? Do you get irked or impatient with people who aren’t?
Do you tend to be controlling—of your mate, your children, friends, those in your workplace?
Do you frequently interrupt people when they are speaking?
Does your husband feel intimidated by your “spirituality”?
Does your husband feel like he can never measure up to your expectations of what it means to be a good husband, spiritual leader, etc.?
Do you often complain—about the weather, your health, your circumstances, your job, your church?
Do you talk about yourself too much? Are you more concerned about your problems, needs, burdens than about others’ concerns?
Do you worry about what others think of you? Too concerned about your reputation or your family’s reputation?
Do you neglect to express gratitude for “little things”? To God? To others?
Do you neglect prayer and intake of the Word?
Do you get hurt if your accomplishments/or acts of service are not recognized or rewarded?
Do you get hurt if your feelings or opinions are not considered when your mate or your boss is making a decision or if you are not informed when a change or decision is made?
Do you react to rules? Do you have a hard time being told what to do?
Are you self-conscious because of your lack of education or natural beauty, or your socio-economic status?
Do you avoid participating in certain events, for fear of being embarrassed or looking foolish?
Do you avoid being around certain people because you feel inferior compared to them/don’t feel you measure up?
Are you uncomfortable inviting people to your home because you don’t think it’s nice enough or you can’t afford to do lavish entertaining?
Is it hard for you to let others know when you need help (practical or spiritual)?
When is the last time you said these words to a family member, friend, or coworker: “I was wrong; would you please forgive me?” (If it’s been more than a month, mark it down!)
Are you sitting here thinking how many of these questions apply to someone you know? Feeling pretty good that none of these things really apply to you?
So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.