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.”
Two observations for today from this passage:
Jesus noticed. He saw how certain people were choosing seats of honor for themselves. Just like Jesus noticed how certain people gave (Luke 21), Jesus takes notice of how people try to get honor for themselves. Our Lord pays attention to our lives, and He sees our intentions, both good and bad.
Choosing the best seats. These men were going into feasts, meetings, weddings, etc. and seeking the best seats. In other words, they were wanting the spotlight, the accolades and the glory. They were demanding honor and respect to be paid them.
Jesus is asking us to look for the “lowest” places…the cheap seats, and if we get moved up to higher places of honor, that’s great! But what would it be like to force yourself down to the front row, and have the ushers come and say, “You don’t belong here, this isn’t your seat.”? How embarrassing and deflating!
I’ve been thinking about how we struggle with this in our relationships. Do we as husbands demand respect and honor from our wives? Are we as fathers demanding respect and honor when maybe we should try to take the lower seats first? There are times when our egos get in the way, and we make a big show of ourselves to either our kids or our wives, and we only end up looking really stupid later. We’re going around making sure people give us the respect we deserve, only later to realize where we really belong is in section 900, row Z.
That is why there are so many passages in Scripture reminding us not to think too highly of ourselves. When we try so hard to get the respect and honor we “deserve” we just end up looking foolish. We also hurt the ones we love along the way. Instead of us being hurt because someone was a little snippy, or maybe a little unkind, maybe we should go down to the lowest seats in our brain and see the situation from a different perspective. It could be that our loved ones are really burdened about something – they need compassion, understanding and listening ears, not demands for attention and respect.
So, today, men, let’s look for the cheap seats. Stop trying to demand respect and honor. People don’t respect you because you demand it, they respect you when you earn it by having a humble, servant heart.