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Not about etiquette, but about our inner spirit

November 2, 2023
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Daily Scripture

Luke 14:7-14, Proverbs 25:6-7

Luke 14
7 When Jesus noticed how the guests sought out the best seats at the table, he told them a parable. 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding celebration, don’t take your seat in the place of honor. Someone more highly regarded than you could have been invited by your host. 9 The host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give your seat to this other person.’ Embarrassed, you will take your seat in the least important place. 10 Instead, when you receive an invitation, go and sit in the least important place. When your host approaches you, he will say, ‘Friend, move up here to a better seat.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11 All who lift themselves up will be brought low, and those who make themselves low will be lifted up.”
12 Then Jesus said to the person who had invited him, “When you host a lunch or dinner, don’t invite your friends, your brothers and sisters, your relatives, or rich neighbors. If you do, they will invite you in return and that will be your reward. 13 Instead, when you give a banquet, invite the poor, crippled, lame, and blind. 14 And you will be blessed because they can’t repay you. Instead, you will be repaid when the just are resurrected.”

Proverbs 25
6 Don’t exalt yourself in the presence of the king,
    or stand in the place of important people,
7     because it is better that he say to you,
    “Come up here,”
    than to be demoted before a ruler.

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Again, Jesus drew on and expanded an idea from the Hebrew Scriptures, this one from the book of Proverbs. Jesus wasn’t urging sneaky manipulation, a false “Aw shucks” modesty. He was calling us to set aside our obsession with rank and status and be at peace with who we are. Consistent with his entire life and teaching, he urged people to avoid selfishly pushing for their own recognition and advantage, to leave room for honoring others.

  • Have you ever known (or maybe even been) a person like the ones Jesus noticed who “sought out the best seats at the table”? In what ways can that attitude show itself in school, games, the workplace, even church work? What’s the difference between healthy assertiveness, so that you can use your gifts to bless others, and the kind of self-promotion Jesus warned against? In the light of history, do you believe Jesus was well-meaning but naïve—or was he right?
  • Jesus’ point was bigger than etiquette. Scholar N. T. Wright wrote, “Thousands of non-Jews had become Christians…. Many Jewish Christians… found this hard… to approve or understand. They were so eager to maintain their own places at the top table that they could not grasp God’s great design to stand the world on its head. Pride… is the great cloud which blots out the sun of God’s generosity.” * How readily can you welcome people you might feel superior to into God’s family?
Prayer

Lord Jesus, you have honored me by loving, redeeming and accepting me. Help me keep growing in my ability to extend that same kind of generosity to others. Amen.

GPS Insights

Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie

Mikiala Tennie serves as the Student Discipleship Program Director with Resurrection Students. She has nearly 20 years of volunteer and professional ministry experience and loves walking alongside and encouraging others in their spiritual journey. Mikiala is blessed to be an adoptive aunt and godmother to many kiddos and lives with her 10-pound Yorkie, KiKi Okoye Tennie.

I’m fully prepared to be judged for this, but I am just as fully unashamed.

I currently have Christmas music playing.

Yes, I know it’s only the beginning of November, but technically I started in October. Sorry, not sorry. It’s not that I want to erase or gloss over the upcoming holiday of Thanksgiving. I just think giving thanks is such a wonderful act that it only makes sense to include it in the whole entire season! So, I mean no disrespect to those that are strict observers of the “no Christmas music until December” rule, but this gal is gonna partake both early and late in this season.

I love the vibes of the holidays; I want to live in that spirit as long as I can. So, as I listen to a mash-up of Pure Imagination from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory mixed with Christmas Time is Here, I’m reminded of what Jesus did when He graced us with his presence in that manger.

God—who deserves all glory, honor, and praise—chose to come live life as human, which is very often lacking in glory, honor, and praise. With the birth of Jesus, God chose to embody the humility it takes to leave behind the choruses of the angels and exchange all that for life as a little baby who would spend the first few years of his life on the run from a king who wanted to snuff out that little life in an effort to retain his own importance.

Jesus, who learned a typical trade from his father and grew up to be a travelling rabbi. Jesus whose triumphant entry took place on the back of a donkey instead of a regal steed. This Jesus who just by example—just by the actions He took—taught us that it’s better to be humble than to chase being the best or most important person in the room. Jesus was the best and most important person everywhere He went, yet when He spoke about being elevated and recognized by people, He spoke of the death He would die before being resurrected.

And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die (John 12:32-33).

He taught us to sit in the least important places, the uncomfortable places, the low places, because that’s where true honor is. And He would know.

He taught us not to lift ourselves up but to lift others up instead. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted (Luke 14:11).

He taught us to love and honor those who have nothing to offer us in return. But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:13-14).

So yes, I love dipping into this season a tad early! THIS is the Jesus we get to celebrate collectively for the next couple of months. And in the celebrating, we get to follow His example and invite others to sit at our proverbial tables as we place them in seats of honor.

Whether you’re an early “Christmaser” like myself, or you prefer waiting, I pray that over the next couple of months we would all find ways to uplift those around us just like Jesus. Tis the Season!

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
References

* N. T. Wright, Luke for Everyone. (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004, pp. 175-176.)