Luke 14:7-11 :
He spoke a parable to those who were invited, when he noticed how they chose the best seats, and said to them, “When you are invited by anyone to a marriage feast, don’t sit in the best seat, since perhaps someone more honorable than you might be invited by him, and he who invited both of you would come and tell you, ‘Make room for this person.’ Then you would begin, with shame, to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes, he may tell you, ‘Friend, move up higher.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.”
This is one of the most remarkable descriptions of humility that I have ever read. Often, when considering the topic of humility, it is difficult to describe the difference between humility and self dishonor. God would not have made us in His own image and sent His Son to die for us if he wanted us to dishonor ourselves and think of ourselves like worms. In fact, we have already read that Jesus said that we are much more important than the birds.
This parable tells us how to think about being humble by placing it in a natural setting. Here we have the image of a wedding for which many people of varying importance have been invited. The remarkable thing is that Jesus tells the people how to avoid being dishonored while telling them to be humble at the same time! By sitting in the least important place, you make it more likely that you will be appropriately honored by the host. If you choose the lowest place and you don’t get moved, then you should be happy that you didn’t get asked to move down in front of everyone!
Notice that the emphasis is on eventually taking the proper place not taking a low place. The simple fact is that sometimes, we don’t even know how important we really are. To assume a high level of importance puts us at risk of dishonor. It’s better to take a lower place and be moved up than to be arrogant and be humiliated in front of everyone. It makes sense to assume that we are less important than others. Why? Because it might just be true! If not, we will be pleasantly surprised.
This is why the much repeated concept of humility is that we should humble ourselves before the Lord and He will lift us up. Let’s not raise our hands as if to say I deserve something from you. Let’s bow our heads and ask humbly for the opportunity to be a slave. Jesus will give us a place of His own choosing because He is more merciful and gracious than we can imagine and He knows the very best place for us.