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O Lord, It’s Hard To Be Humble

symbolIt seems our lives are spent endlessly standing in line and waiting.

We join lines at the supermarket checkout, the pie cart, the hospital emergency department, the bank, the service station, the airport and the theatre: it’s only fair that we wait for something that’s valued, worthwhile or necessary.

But sometimes it isn’t fair. Sometimes people cheat by cutting in, jumping the queue, taking the inside lane. Some get preferential treatment and go right to the front of the line. Sometimes those who are last in line are treated as the least important. And sometimes it’s hard to accept.

This week’s gospel passage (Luke 14:1, 7-14) tells of Jesus highlighting the importance of humility. He chooses a familiar illustration involving a wedding feast to point to an eternal truth: humility is a quality of the truly great. Humility doesn’t demand that one person shines less brightly than another; rather that all be given opportunity to shine.

None are so empty as those who are full of themselves. That’s why self-promoting people crave attention.

In contrast, the truly humble are secure in who they are – even filled with God’s love, more concerned with others’ needs than with what people think of them.

Jesus shows us that what really matters is how we treat others as we wait. In the kingdom, Jesus takes his place at the back of the line, behind the forgotten and downtrodden, far from the VIPs demanding preferential treatment, and startles us as he calls us all to turn around. When we are face to face with Jesus, the back of the line becomes the front; the last become first, and are invited to the place of honour.

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” [Matthew 5:5]

 

Acknowledgements:

Mark Ellingsen, SermonSuite.com

Steve Goodier, ‘Life Support System’

Wm. Barclay, ‘The New Daily Study Bible’

 

Hebrews 13:1-16

 1Let mutual love continue. 2Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. 3Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured. 4Let marriage be held in honour by all, and let the marriage bed be kept undefiled; for God will judge fornicators and adulterers. 5Keep your lives free from the love of money, and be content with what you have; for he has said, “I will never leave you or forsake you.” 6So we can say with confidence, “The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can anyone do to me?” 7Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith. 8Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 9Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings; for it is well for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by regulations about food, which have not benefited those who observe them. 10We have an altar from which those who officiate in the tent have no right to eat. 11For the bodies of those animals whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest as a sacrifice for sin are burned outside the camp. 12Therefore Jesus also suffered outside the city gate in order to sanctify the people by his own blood. 13Let us then go to him outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured. 14For here we have no lasting city, but we are looking for the city that is to come. 15Through him, then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name. 16Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Luke 14: 1, 7-14   The Necessity of Humility

1On one occasion when Jesus was going to the house of a leader of the Pharisees to eat a meal on the Sabbath, they were watching him closely.

7When he noticed how the guests chose the places of honour, he told them a parable. 8“When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not sit down at the place of honour, in case someone more distinguished than you has been invited by your host; 9and the host who invited both of you may come and say to you, ‘Give this person your place,’ and then in disgrace you would start to take the lowest place. 10But when you are invited, go and sit down at the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he may say to you, ‘Friend, move up higher’; then you will be honoured in the presence of all who sit at the table with you. 11For all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 12He said also to the one who had invited him, “When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends or your brothers or your relatives or rich neighbours, in case they may invite you in return, and you would be repaid. 13But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. 14And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you, for you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.”